20 March 2014

Sometimes to do a House History, just as with Family History research, you need to turn to Science!

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dendrochronological_drill_hg.jpg, Hersteller: Preßler GmbH Planung und Bauforschung, Untergerstener Straße 4, 49838 Gersten/Emsland, Germany
Just as we sometimes find as we research our ancestors, a paper trail can only take you so far!  Well, the same can be true when researching the history of a house or building.  Paperwork hasn’t survived, there are no contemporary accounts mentioning its construction, etc.

Where for people research we will now often turn to DNA testing, for dating/aging a house or other structure, we can turn to dendrochronology.

I was just reminded of this when reading Wood offers clues to past which talks about using dendrochronology which studies “the tree rings found in the wood of the house” to determine when the “Crabtree” Jones house and its additions were built.

“ ... the rings are a fingerprint of sorts that show how a tree grew and can indicate when it was cut down, offering a valuable clue about when its wood was used in construction.”

This reminded me that the historic Joel Lane House (another Wake County NC landmark building) also underwent dendrochonology in 2013 and this technique was also used to date a Pitt County farm house (constructed in 1742).

This technique isn’t just used for dating structures, the NC Museum of Art also used to determine the age of some of its artwork.

So, remember, that just as with people, sometimes the paper trail is insufficient (or non-existent) with regards to houses, structures, furnishings, etc., and there are tactics one might take to learn more about the age as well as scientific techniques such as dendrochronology.

Have you been involved with a project where dendrochronology was used?

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