Category Archive: News

An Examination of Wallpaper at the Akin House

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 fragments in Large Parlor. The pine panel is visible

 

 

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The 1762 Akin House Revealed

Eighteenth Century Caulking Methods

This fragment of linen was discovered in the Large Parlor in between two of the original pine boards or panels, closest to the entryway from the hallway. Was linen used as caulking? Quite possibly.

The featured image represents the only fragment found thus far.  It is rare indeed.

Keep checking our Blog!

For the next several months, we will be posting our findings and research as the structural bones and original materials from the 18th century are uncovered.

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Peel Away the Layers to Reveal the Shadows of History

Phase 3 Restoration

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.


 

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.

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Akin House Restoration Phase III has begun in earnest

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.

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Henry Worth and the History of the Akins in old Dartmouth

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.

Worth also lectured frequently, both in the local area and further afield. Worth’s papers are archived in the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library.

Why are Worth’s writings important to the history of the Akin family? He wrote extensively about the Akins and their connection to old Dartmouth. He is a “go-to” historian for researchers, even today.

Local historian Bob Maker who is also an archivist with the New Bedford Whaling Museum has interpreted Henry Worth’s sizable research material for contemporary audiences. 

The Akins feature prominently along with other early founders in Worth’s comprehensive narrative about Padanaram Village in south Dartmouth.

Download (PDF, 2.64MB)

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“Down to the Sea in Ships” and the 1762 Elihu Akin House of the early 1920s

In 1921, the Akin House becomes a part of film history as a location for Elmer Clifton’􀁠s Down to the Sea in Ships.

These still photos provide a record of the east side of the Akin House, called the “Old Homestead”, and appears in a late sequence of the film.

Download (PDF, 175KB)

Down to the Sea in Ships was Clara Bow’􀁠s first released film and also depicts Dartmouth’􀁠s Apponagansett Meeting House.

It contains rare footage of a whaling voyage filmed on the Wanderer and the Charles W. Morgan.

This film about New Bedford whaling had its premiere at the Olympia Theatre on September 25, 1922. The whaling footage is considered the best ever filmed and among the rarest.

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The Akin House Property in the Context of South Dartmouth

For those of you who are interested in local history and the origins of the 1762 Akin House on the corner of Dartmouth and Rockland Streets, this link is for you.

The proximity of this south Dartmouth property to Padanaram Harbor [formerly known as Akin’s Landing] underscores the entrepreneurial spirit of the Akins of old Dartmouth.

Download (PDF, 3.98MB)

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Historic Preservation Restrictions

Historic Preservation Restrictions [HPR] are a legal means to provide the highest level of long-term protection to significant historic properties in the form of deed easements.

This image of the 1871 Russell’s Mills Schoolhouse before exterior restoration thanks to Community Preservation Act funds is protected by a HPR.

You are invited to learn more about HPRs and DHPT’s role in HPRs in our community by going here.

 

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