The inhabitants of our 1762 house, still extant in 2017, would have added decorative details over the centuries. Originally constructed with wide pine panels serving as interior walls and whitewashed, popular in the 17th and 18th centuries.
[For more information about whitewashing, please refer to another blog on this subject, under construction.]
When the Akin House property was saved by the Waterfront Historic Area League of New Bedford in 2003 with the use of Dartmouth’s Community Preservation Act funds for its purchase, the house was deemed beyond saving and, frankly, a total mess. With the exception of die-hard preservationists and historians, very few believed it was worth saving.
DHPT took over the preservation and restoration of the property in 2008 and our work continues to this day. Our accomplishments and the history of this house are featured throughout this website.
We found many layers of wallpaper to get to the original pine panels. These layers represent many centuries of decorative enhancements up until the late 20th century. Over the transpiring years of restoration work, we have saved fragments of wallpaper. While some bits and pieces had greatly deteriorated, as long as it could be identified, we set it aside for future study. We were particularly interested in the layers of wallpaper found in the two parlors. We photographed in situ and set aside the released wallpaper for future use as didactic displays for education purposes.
Below is just a sample. For a closeup, click on the image.
Wallpaper Fragment in Small Parlor/Sitting Room
“Embossed” wallpaper fragment in Formal Parlor. Note the background is not the pine panel but another covering.
Wallpaper Fragments in Formal Parlor. Pine Board Visible in Background.
Wallpaper fragments in Large Parlor. The pine panel is visible
Phase III restoration of the 1762 Akin House has begun with a detailed examination of each room and the removal of centuries of layers (plaster, lath, 19th/20th C wall boards, wallpaper of different periods) to expose the original features.
“This little house with a big story to tell”
This little house is sharing its history and the culture of its inhabitants in ways we could not have imagined. Let us introduce you to the small parlor, first examined in 2003 with its circa 1960s paneling and boarded fireplace. We are sharing for the first time the wonders of this room as it might have been in the 18th C or early 19th C, the wide pine boards and unusual wall coverings–no insulation, just the fireplace for warmth. We are in touch with historic house experts to help us better understand this house, its early architecture, its decorative finishes, and repairs over 250 plus years. Stay tuned for more images and information as our research and documentation unfold.
Top image shows the condition of the small parlor in 2003. To the right is an “after” photo of August 2017 with a combination of wall coverings, including horsehair plastered walls removed.
Left image: A layer of early covering suggests an unusual stenciling technique.
Center image: The original pine wall boards (small parlor) revealed in August 2017.
Right image: Close-up view of the wall covering, a pattern repeated throughout this room.
In 2015, DHPT was awarded Dartmouth Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for Phase III restoration at our 1762 Akin House at 762 Dartmouth Street. We recently hired preservation contractor, Tom Figueiredo, of Marion, to do this important job. Tom has been working non-stop on site since August 7, 2017. We are pleased and fortunate to have Tom as our partner in preservation. His services and expertise was well worth the wait while he was working on another CPA restoration project in Mattapoisett, MA.
To learn more about Tom and his company, visit http://figbuilders.com. Be sure to check out the website blog to learn about the recently completed restoration of the ca. 1827 Mattapoisett Meeting House to get a first-hand look at the quality craftsmanship, care and attention to detail that Tom and his team bring to any historic preservation project.
Henry Barnard Worth (1858-1923), a local historian living in New Bedford, was active in the first quarter of the twentieth century. He was a member and officer of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society [New Bedford Whaling Museum] from its inception, and was the author of more than twenty essays published as Old Dartmouth Sketches. His best-known work, in collaboration with photographer Fred Palmer, documented in text and photos some of the oldest houses in our area.