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Belle Grove Description

Built "in the 1840s" according to the WPA report. Hardware would indicate that the home was built no later than 1840, due to the fact that all woodscrews in the house were of the type without points (much like bolts). The pointed screw was patented in 1840 (According to Richard Martin). Also, in an upstairs bedroom with several layers of wallcovering, a layer was marked with the date 1860. Two layers of wallcovering lay beneath that one.The building was razed in 2001, having decayed beyond easy repair.



Floor Plan: The front section of Belle Grove's "L" exhibits a modified Georgian plan, with a central passageway dividing two congruent rooms, each containing an end fireplace. The second floor mimicks the same plan, but divides the east room into two smaller rooms, each with a corner fireplace. On each side of every end fireplace, massive cherry cabinets were installed. The rear part of the house held a kitchen, with a grand bedroom above. Each of these rooms had an end fireplace. A stairwell divides the front and rear portions of the house, with its arrangement suggesting that servants were used. To travel from the first floor of the front section of the house to the kitchen, it was necessary to either go up the grand staircase and then down the service stairs, or to go outside of the main house through a frame passageway. A cellar under the rear portion was accessible by a stairway under the service stairs or by exiting the kitchen to the east and walking around to the north side of the house (second, outside entrance to the cellar may have been a later addition.) A two-story frame section existed on the west side of the front portion of the house. Porches, which were not original to the house, existed on the front and east sides. The front porch extended the majority of the length of the house and was supported by six rather large doric columns. The porch was supported by a shallow, dry-laid limestone foundation. The side porch was more Victorian in styling with smaller turned columns, corner brackets and dentata soffit detail. The porch was supported by brick piers and a stump.

A 1920s frame addition in the corner of the "L" caused some changes to the original floorplan. Doors were added and the deep windows on the west wall of the kitchen were made into shelves (?). Curiously, the addition utilizes standard 8' ceilings to Belle Grove's nearly 11' ceilings so that the new section stacks three floors up to Bell Grove 2 1/2. The transition from the old section to the new required stepping up or down, with the exception of the first floor where the two were equal in height.

Exterior Walls: A brick house, where the front of the house is laid in a flemish bond, the other walls are laid in an English bond, with five courses of stretcher between each set of heaers. Door frames incorporated Queen's something. . . as a decorative detail, as well as a practicality. Set into the brickwork around windows and doors are wooden blocks precisely the size of the brick (measure brick!) set in place of a brick. The jambs were then nailed into these blocks. In the kilns where the brick was fired, temperature and air flow were not consistent. Surfaces on the outside of the brick-wad would be glazed, other areas were liked to be 'underfired' and softer. At Belle Grove, the common technique of using the less fired bricks on the interior side of the walls was employed. The harder brick was exposed to the elements. While glazing was found on some brick, the glazed brick was not used decoratively as is common in German architecture. Because of the difference in brick color (and therefore clay color), it is possible that the softer brick (salmon color) was made on premises, while the harder and better quality brick (varying tones of red and purple with large grog) was purchased. All the brick shows the parallel scrape marks common to brick hand-made with a wooden form. The two sections of the "L" were treated as two units, with brick forming the basis of the interior walls of the hallway that separate the sections of the 'L'.

A brick cornice topped the non-gabled walls. Four segments of specially shaped brick of alternating concave and convex curves were required to produce the profile. The wood soffits above rested on a pillar of non-specialized brick.

Plaster was applied directly to the brick of the exterior walls with no further framing. A layer of course plaster was laid on the wall, followed by a layer of finer plaster. The walls were then painted and many were later wallpapered.

Brick chimneys were set to the inside of the exterior wall.

Interior Walls: Heavy studs form the basis of the interior walls. Handsplit lath is nailed in with cut nails to these studs. The layers of plaster described above were then applied to this substrate. The floor boards were sandwiched between the studs of first and second floors.

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