In the late fall of 2008, Kris Thomson, restoration carpenter and general contractor, purchased a small house at 615 Riverside Drive in Florence to renovate as a winter project. Knowing the house was very old, he set about searching for evidence of the little house buried within the more recent exterior. When he took down the interior walls to put in new insulation, plumbing and electric he discovered the original framing. He then went to the Northampton Historical Commission with a proposal to bring in Architectural Conservator--Bill Flynt-- from Historic Deerfield who would conduct a high-tech test/process to possibly quantify very closely, the date of the structure. Here's the proposal to the Historical Commission.
Dendrochronology Study Proposal
In undertaking a dendrochronology study of a timber frame structure, a number of parameters need to be met in order for the study to have a decent chance of success. It should noted, however, that even if all the criteria are met, there is always a possibility that the results will be inconclusive.
The following parameters need to be taken into consideration;
1. Ideally 10-12 samples need to be obtained from each distinct period of construction that is being investigated. In reality this is not always possible. 2. Timber species must be Oak, Pitch pine, Hemlock, or possibly Chestnut as these species are the only ones for which there currently exist dated master chronologies in relatively close geographic proximity to the building in question. 3. Wane, or bark edge, timbers of sufficient numbers must be accessible for coring. 4. Timbers must have a minimum of 55-60 growth rings to be deemed reliable. 5. While not mandatory, it is best if the study has access to any current research pertaining to the structure/site. Floor/framing plans are also recommended and need to be made available for the study for plotting sample locations.
The dendrochronology study will consist of a site visit to obtain samples, sample preparation (mounting, sanding, species confirmation, ring counts), microscopic measuring, data analysis, and a written report.
Fees The cost of the complete study is based on a fee structure of $100 per sample.
The Historical Commission approved the expenditure of $1,000 to conduct the testing.
Below are some thumbnail pix of Bill Flynt conducting the core sampling. [Click on each image for a larger one. There is also a link to a more detailed piece about just what Dendrochronology is.
Simply put, dendrochronology is the dating of past events (climatic changes) through study of tree ring growth. Botanists, foresters and archaeologists began using this technique during the early part of the 20th century. Read more about how this works.