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Sunday, October 25, 2009

FOLK HOUSING -- TENANT OR SADDLEBAG?





Two Tenant Houses in Madison County, Kentucky.
Houses are built  fore and  aft on the property

Kentucky has been my home for about two years now. That makes me almost a native in my eyes. 


In the past I have traveled extensively in the states to experience various cultures. You might say that this country of ours is all one culture but as you travel and live in various regions with your antenna up you may discover that our country has many various cultures, all with a strong sense of place.

One mark of a culture is the houses it builds.

In Kentucky, where I presently live, I am exposed to various  types of vernacular architecture. Tenant houses and  saddlebag houses being but two types within this area.These two forms are similar. 

Tenant and Saddlebag can be confusing to label. Within this post is a description of the historical differences between the two.

The Saddlebag house and the Tenant house are very similar in construction. They are what is referred to generically as a two pen house or double pen, one room deep and two rooms wide. An easy signature of identifying both is that they often have two front doors. 

The Saddlebag 's exterior usually has two different building materials such as log on the original one room and weatherboarding on the one room addition. 

Tenant homes are usually built with board construction from early sawmills. Tenant houses grew out of the saddlebag design. From my observation, Central Kentucky extant tenant houses built in the early twentieth century are two rooms across and two rooms deep.   

Saddlebags have an interesting history of how they came about. Common Houses In America's Small Towns by Jakle, Bastian and Meyer claim that the houses were called saddlebag as they were originally one room wide houses and as the use expanded they added one room off to the side. This meant that the house now was two rooms wide along the front facade while still remaining one room deep. The addition was the "saddlebag." 

The saddlebag house has a center chimney and two fireplaces serving each room. Often they have two front doors. These particular houses in my part of central Kentucky reflect the settlement patterns of late 1700s to early 1900s. They exist yet they are disappearing from the landscape due to development or abandonment. Often the saddlebag's one room addition would be constructed of different material than the original one room house. An example being an original log one room house having a side room addition built with weatherboarding. 

Tenant House design grew out of the Saddlebag influence. The tenant house arrived in the late 1800's and continued through the early 1900s. They were originally built incorporating the two room width and either one or two rooms deep. They reflected the early Saddlebag by having a central flue, rather than a fireplace with a central chimney.  The flue serviced stoves in each room. Tenant house configuration imitated the Saddlebag by having double front doors.

Tenant or Saddlebag houses usually have a front porch with a roof extending out from the house roof line. Many times it was almost as wide as the front of the house. The front porch was a social place rather than a working place – working was reserved for the back of the house. The front porch provided a place to relax, view the landscape, sunsets or sun-ups, neighbors passing and most of all a place to cool off in the pre-air-conditioned days.

Rocking chairs were usually part of the front porch scene. Even today houses in central Kentucky retain the wide covered front porch along with several rocking chairs of both old and new vintage. And the rocking chairs are used -- not just an adornment.

Many Tenant houses in Central Kentucky have evolved from one room deep to two rooms deep. In Central Kentucky they usually have a skin of vertical wide boards, two rooms deep and two rooms wide, small to medium sized rooms, crawl spaces below, two windows on each side of the house, sometimes a back porch with roof overhead, side gable roof-line, usually one and a half story, roof of metal or wood shingles, center chimney or flue, two centered front doors flanked by a window on each side of a door.

The construction of many of these early1900s Tenant houses are called "box construction" or locally, "boxed." Click here for more about box construction techniques.

Although some researchers of vernacular housing feel that tenant housing was originally built for tenants there are some who claim Tenant houses were for folks seeking low cost housing. 

About once a week, I would ride by two Tenant houses that sat fore and aft on its rural landscape. The houses had been sided with gray shingles probably during the 30’s. Each house had two front doors. The house in the “fore” of the property had another set of two doors in the back of the house.

Recently, one of the two houses was torn down by the descendants of the original family that built and lived in them since the early 1900s. Their reason for taking them down was to make space for a new large mobile home. The one saving grace is that the wood and various parts of the housing were methodically saved for building a small church by some of the owner's family. A photo of the two original tenant houses is located at the top of this post.

With the razing of one of the houses and a soon scheduled razing of the remaining -- a part of the feeling of this historic landscape will disappear.

Close up of Madison County Kentucky Tenant Home.


Vernacular historic houses have been overlooked as important features of the landscape to save. However, vernacular houses overall play an important role in giving us a sense of the cultural ways in which people lived.
VISIT MY OTHER POSTS ON FOLK HOUSING -- CLICK BELOW:

VERNACULAR MOUNTAIN HOME


HISTORIC BOX CONSTRUCTION VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE

Friday, October 23, 2009

REAL BATS VISIT THE LOCAL LIBRARY

areUNDER CONTROL IS A BIG-EARED BAT

Yes, live bats were in the library but not loose and flying around scaring the patrons. The live bats were part of a community presentation at the Madison County Berea Library in Kentucky which was open to all ages.

Presenter, GaryLibby, wildlife biologist, discussed interesting facts about bats that included the fact they are important to our ecology by controlling insect pests in large quantities. Also, he mentioned that bats cannot exist near polluted water as larvae are a food source. In the U.S. bats have become more at risk as humans continue to create disturbances near bat's habitats.

Big- eared bats are considered considered big for the bat world. Also, as their name signifies, they have larger ears than most other bat species. One of the young children in the audience gave out a friendly squeal that its ears, "looked like a bunny rabbit."

A main diet item of these bats is moths. If you happen by a tree with lots of holes, such as a snag, and find moth wings on the ground -- you'll know a bat was probably feeding there.


MANY CHILDREN ATTENDED -- GARY GAVE THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO TOUCH THE WING OF THE BIG-EARED BAT -- THE CHILDREN WERE FASCINATED AND LINED UP TO DO SO.

Gary listed three myths about bats: 1) they don't get tangled in anyone's hair 2) they don't suck your blood, only Vampire bats do and they live in South America and 3) they rarely carry rabies, not anymore than raccoons, possums, cats, or dogs. He also pointed out that bats have no interest in biting you -- only caught insects which are their main diet.

The bags (pillowcases) hanging on the coat-rack in back of Gary had individual live bats in them. He had taken them from a local cave the night before and will place them back in their cave after the presentation. He said taking a hanging bat from a cave is like picking apples. You just reach up and pluck one. Of course he did not recommend it for untrained and unvaccinated folks.

ONE OF THE SMALLEST BATS IN THE U.S. -- EASTERN PIPSTERELLE

These tiny bats are sometimes called, "butterfly bats" due to their small size. They hibernate in caves in the winter and have one or two "pups" (babies) in the spring. Males live to about 15 years while the females only 10 years.

They usually feed over open water and can catch insects every two seconds increasing their mass in a half hour by 25%.

Predators of all bats include snakes, feral cats, raccoons, owls, and hawks.

Overall, the presentation gave exposure to an animal that has a bad rap. When one has an opportunity to view one close up and hear the facts about them -- you realize that they are an important wild critter within our natural world providing an ecological niche.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

FALL TREES-- GLORIOUS!

On an overcast day I gaze in awe at the majestic woods surrounding my homestead. My 360 surround is dramatic with color.

Field and woods display their earthy hues.

The ashen color bark contrasts with a skirt of red.

Patterns of a drama unfold from the woods along the mountain ridge.

I settle on my old porch bench with a cup of coffee, looking over it all, while contemplating its mystery.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

QUILT BLOCK SQUARE -- SCHOOLHOUSE PATTERN -- ON OLD SCHOOL

SCHOOLHOUSE EXTERIOR QUILT BLOCK ON KIRKSVILLE SCHOOL

RENOVATED KIRKSVILLE SCHOOL -- NOW A COMMUNITY CENTER
OLD DOOR CORNICE STILL EXTANT

The two-story brick school in Kirksville, Kentucky has taken up the idea of hanging a large quilt square on the exterior of its second story old school building. The pattern is very appropriate -- called the "school house pattern."

The pattern was historically designed as a symbol of the child labor movement protest against young children working in sweat shops rather than attending school. In the early 1900s, this practice of child labor peaked. Efforts by various social reformers during the early part of the twentieth century resulted in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that included compulsory free education for all children.

Today, Kirksville school has a new use -- it's now the town's community center.

FOR MORE OF MY POSTS ON QUILT SQUARES AND QUILTS CLICK BELOW:

QUILT SQUARES ON BUILDINGS AND BARNS

QUILT SQUARES ON BARNS


1800s KENTUCKY QUILTER SEAMSTRESS

KENTUCKY QUILT 1885 WITH PROVENANCE

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FOLK REGION -- GIVING IT DEFINITION -- CENTRAL KENTUCKY

TOWN OF BEREA -- SUMMER FARMERS MARKET -- MADISON COUNTY, 2009
CLICK HERE TO READ POST

SILVER MAPLE WITH ROBIN'S NEST
WEDDED TO THE LAND AND THE LAND HOLDS MEMORIES

COUNTRY FARM -- ESTILL COUNTY -- RED LICK CREEK AREA 2009

SMALL TOWN OF PAINT LICK -- GARRAD COUNTY -- 2009

BARBARA'S 1940S CHICKEN HOUSE -- ESTILL COUNTY -- 2009
CLICK HERE TO READ POST

TOWN OF BEREA -- ONE ROOM BLACK SCHOOLHOUSE -- 1922
PHOTO COURTESY JESSE WARD

EARLY LARGE FARM HOUSE AND LAND -- EARLY 1800s OR BEFORE -- MADISON COUNTY

EARLY LOG CRIB -- HALF DOVETAIL NOTCHING -- CIRCA EARLY1800S -- CLIMAX, KY
CLICK HERE TO READ POST

The above photos represent pieces of the folk culture that was or is now found in Central Kentucky. Together they start to define a folk region.

In the book
Kentucky Folk Architecture a definition of a folk region is put forth by Richard M. Dorson from his book American Folklore -- as follows: "a place where the people are wedded to the land, and the land holds memories. The people possess identity and ancestry and close family ties through continuous occupation of the same soil."

VERNACULAR MOUNTAIN HOME -- EARLY

VERNACULAR MOUNTAIN HOME, MADISON COUNTY, KENTUCKY
Kentucky Folk Architecture is one of my favorite books that I rely on when attempting to document the area's folk architecture. I moved to Kentucky two years ago -- but became familiar with the publication in 1989 when I was in graduate school in Oregon (I was in the late bloomer category). It focuses just on what the title says. Wrote in 1976 by William Lynwood Montell and Michael Morse it as relevant today as when it was first published.

The above home is an example of folk architecture. It could be considered a single pen form. It has two rooms across the front with a fairly square footprint. Presently, there is a metal roof. Perhaps it started out with a wood shingle roof when it was built? The main construction material was more than likely white oak.

Many of the folk houses of this date (circa 1900) that I have run across in this area are
box constructed. This home has been tar papered on the exterior and painted green. Perhaps the tar paper was employed to keep drafts at bay as box construction had perpendicular boards with (sometimes) strips over the spacing where the perpendicular boards met. If the home did not have the strips it could become very cold in the winter. Many of the box constructed homes have applied exteriors such as vinyl or asbestos or in this case tar paper. Locally, box construction is also called "boxed."

It is a tidy and well kept home. An elderly man presently lives in the place. This form represents a culture going back about one hundred years or more. It has stories to tell as all folk architecture can.


FOR ANOTHER VERNACULAR POST OF FOLK HOUSING CLICK BELOW:

FOLK HOUSING -- TENANT OR SADDLEBAG?

HISTORIC BOX CONSTRUCTION




Saturday, October 17, 2009

APPALACHIAN FOLK ARTIST -- EDNA SIMPSON

COTTON PICKING DAYS
First painting of two found in the last month.
Always a delight to find another naive folk art painting by Edna Simpson. In this case, not one but two were found in about a month. Cotton Picking Days and Times Gone By were bright and spontaneous, full of action and great displays of cultural landscapes from the past.

CLOSE UP SECTION OF COTTON PICKING DAYS
I talked to Miss Edna several months ago for the first time. I asked where she gets her ideas for her paintings. Her response was that it is mostly from her memories from the past. Edna lives in Kentucky country, is 63 years old and celebrates life with friends and relatives. With a lively voice, she is full of stories of her life and her paintings. She has dabbled in painting for about 20 years. Once she attempted to take painting lessons with her daughter and she only lasted for three classes before she went back to painting in her own distinctive style.

CLOSE UP SECTION OF COTTON PICKING DAYS
Lots of naive detail.

Measures 24 X 17.


TIMES GONE BY
Second painting found in the past month.
This Simpson piece is titled Times Gone By on the bottom of the painting. It measure 201/2 X16 and is dated 2004. It is on wood and is medium in size compared to Cotton Picking Days above.

CLOSE UP SECTION OF TIMES GONE BY
To view another Edna Simpson folk art painting
click here

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

MISS BETTY'S FALL FARM STAND

MISS BETTY NEAR HER FRONT DOOR WITH PUGSIE, HER DOG OF MANY YEARS.
Farm stands come in all shapes and forms. I found this Halloween decorated stand in Kirksville, Kentucky. The owner, Miss Betty, lives in this very small town and has lived in Kentucky all her life. Her porch and side yard have been transformed into a working farm stand She is an avid grower and a lover of animals especially of dogs. I talked with her recently about her vegetables and what is involved in growing them. She told me that she grows her vegetables, mostly by seed, down the road at a nearby farm. She mentioned that this year was a good year for her vegetables -- tomatoes, a few the size of softballs and lots of everything else she planted.

MISS BETTY'S FARM STAND ON HER FRONT PORCH
In the photo above one can see the main road that winds through Kirksville past Miss Betty's home and farm stand that sits right next to the road. Above sits her small pumpkins ready to go home with someone. One sits on an old handmade Kentucky oak splint chair from the turn of the 1900s. Next to the oak splint chair is another chair that is a vintage front porch type.

SOME OF THE GREAT SELECTION OF VEGETABLES THAT CAME FROM MISS BETTY'S GARDEN
More of the abundance from her garden.

BEAUTIFUL FRESH SWEET POTATOES!
Three bushels of sweet potoatoes sit in old fashion bushel baskets.

THE LAST OF MISS BETTY'S TOMATO AND CUCUMBER CROP
Fresh tomatoes still for sale in the middle of October! I picked out four to take home with me -- delighted to find them fresh from a garden. She said this is the last of the veggies for the season.

Her favorite tomato that she grows is called "pineapple." I told her I was unfamiliar with that name. She mentioned that she saves the pineapple type of seeds from year to year. Her other name for the pineapple tomato is one she made up -- "yellow stripy."

Always makes for an interesting day to find a true gardener that is dedicated to growing. For Miss Betty she also has the pleasure of selling some of her produce.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

1800s KENTUCKY QUILTER, SEAMSTRESS

ABIGAIL FRANCES RIFFE CARPENTER
Quilter and Seamstress
1861 -- 1908

Much of the social history of early America has been lost to us precisely because women were expected to use needles rather than pens. Yet textiles ... have been an almost universal medium of female expression. ~~ Historian, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

ABIGAIL FRANCES RIFFE CARPENTER'S WEDDING DRESS.

Documentation of Abbie Frances Riffe Carpenter's skills were put together in a family booklet titled: To Be Rooted: The Story of Abigail Frances Riffe Carpenter 1861 -- 1908, written by family member Mary Rachael Kirtley McCormick, 2002. In it she describes Abbie Carpenter, the seamstress and quilter, " gifted seamstress, made her wedding dress as well as elaborately embroidered pillow cases, delicately trimmed baby clothes and quilts of exquisite design."

ABBIE RIFFE MONTGOMERY KIRTLEY
photo circa 1930
Grandaughter of Abigail Frances Riffe Carpenter
Modeling Abigail Frances Riffe Carpenter's wedding dress made in 1880

LOG CABIN QUILT MADE BY ABIGAIL FRANCES RIFFE CARPENTER, DATE UNKNOWN

Log cabin quilts were regional quilts made in the eastern half of the United States. Although, in the early 1800s the pattern was used in England. Popularity for creating log cabin quilts was from the mid-1800s through 1900. Legend has it that it gained its popular status as a result of President Lincoln and his association of being raised in a log cabin when he was young. Most log cabins have a red small square within each block. The red square represented the hearth of the log cabin. The above quilt blocks don't appear to have the usual red squares. However the quilt has the distinguishing feature of light and dark strips usually found on the pattern. This type of quilt was usually tied rather than quilted. For more on the log cabin pattern history click here.

CLOSE UP OF CENTER BLOCK OF ABOVE LOG CABIN QUILT.
CENTER SQUARE HAS EMBROIDERED INITIALS T.L.C.

Abigail Frances Riffe Carpenter was born in Lincoln County, Kentucky and died in Kentucky at the approximate age of 47 years. She married, at the approximate age of 19 years, Theophilus Luke Carpenter who was born on June 24, 1861 in Lincoln County, Kentucky. He died August 19, 1930 at the approximate age of 69.

One wonders if the quilt, with her husband's initials, could have been made as a wedding gift for Theophilus?

CRAZY QUILT MADE BY ABIGAIL FRANCES RIFFE CARPENTER DATE 1894

Crazy quilts were most popular between the 1870s and 1910. They incorporated asymmetrical scraps of material. Silk and velvet were a common material used for the scraps. Decorative stitching was used between the pieces. Animals and plants were sometimes embroidered on the material pieces. For more on crazy quilts click here.

EMBROIDERED PILLOW CASE BY ABIGAIL CARPENTER

The family document, To Be Rooted, tells us more about Abigail Carpenter; "Abbie was also a painter of large landscapes, three of which survive, made pencil sketches, and painted the iron mantel in her house with decorative designs. She also made collages in her scrapbook. For example she would cut a table from brown paper, a vase from wallpaper scrap, flowers from a magazine and pasted them all together to make a charming picture. ... A memorial was designed for a dog named Daisy, that apparently died Jan. 3, 1885. Great-grandma Abbie cut the shape of a table from wallpaper, added a vase with flowers, and placed a picture of a dog on the table."

To view and read about another quilt made by Abigail Carpenter click here.

She was a true artist of her time.

CLICK ON MY POSTS BELOW FOR MORE ON QUILT SQUARES AND QUILTS:

QUILT BLOCK SQUARE -- SCHOOL HOUSE PATTERN


KENTUCKY QUILT 1885 WITH PROVENANCE


MADISON COUNTY QUILT KENTUCKY SQUARE PROJECT


QUILT SQUARES ON BARNS