F ort Ticonderoga has received a grant from the Perkin Fund which will support dendrochronological research on the 19th-century Pell house located on the Fort Ticonderoga peninsula.
According to Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO, the grant will provide funding for vital research to help Fort Ticonderoga date the construction of the Pell home, known as the Pavilion. The result of the analysis will help inform the future interpretation and use of the historic structure.
“While the building’s occupation and use over the past 187 years is quite well documented, how the structure evolved over that period remains a mystery,” said Hill. “It is clear from historic photographs of the Pavilion that many elements of the building have changed. Windows and doors have moved, appeared, and disappeared; porches have come and gone; and even a large portion of the building’s central structure was rebuilt over a century ago. It is also possible that significant portions of the Pavilion were built over the course of several years. But exactly when and why these changes occurred has been largely unknown. Clearly, there are several questions related to the Pavilion’s construction date(s) that need to be answered as we plan its future.”
Funded in part by a grant from the National Trust, a Historic Structure Report is currently underway for the Pavilion led by John G. Waite Associates, Architects of Albany, New York. The report, expected to be complete this year, will include the dendrochronological findings.
Dendrochronology is the science of analyzing and dating annual growth rings in trees. Thirty-nine field samples were taken from the Pavilion in late 2013. A total of 19 pine and 15 hemlock samples were analyzed in the laboratory, with all 34 samples providing firm dendrochronological dates.
According to architect John G. Waite, “The Pavilion is a more interesting and more complicated building than previously thought and certainly of major architectural significance. Previous documentary research indicated that the Pavilion was constructed between ca. 1826 and 1840. Recent building fabric analysis and the dendrochronology confirmed this. However, the dendrochronology also revealed that certain sections of the building contained at least several wood framing members dating from the 1750s and one as early as the 1690s. Whether these were isolated reuse of older material or represent significant sections of earlier buildings incorporated into the Pavilion is still to be determined. What it does mean is that these elements are the oldest wood framing members existing on the Fort Ticonderoga property and provide us with clues to the evolution of this remarkable and unique historic structure.”
The dendrochronological analysis was conducted by Dr. Edward R. Cook and William J. Callahan in partnership with preservation architect JohnG. Waite Associates of Albany, N.Y.