Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory - Massachusetts


Chickering-Francis Farmhouse, 85 Walpole Street. Dover, Norfolk Co. Mass (42.222869 -71.269719)

(a) Primary phase Felling dates:Spring 1782 (main frame); Summer 1784, Spring 1785, Winter 1785/6 (cellar)

Wall-plates 1781(¼C2); Cross-tie 1781(¼C); Principal post 1777(16); Cellar ceiling beams 1785(10C), 1783(23½C); Cellar ceiling joists 1784(¼C, 9¼C). Site Master 1671-1785 DVR (t = 7.7 PIEDMONT; 5.7 OMBx1; 5.0 EYREHALL; 4.3 BPR).

The original part of the Chickering-Francis Farmhouse, built in 1786 or shortly thereafter, is an almost square structure two-and-one-half stories in height with a gable roof and hewn overhangs at the second story and attic levels. The building incorporates several interesting and unusual features. Most notably, the exterior walls were intentionally built to splay outward slightly from the foundation to the eaves. In addition, the building has elements of the square plan, an alternative house plan that developed in the early eighteenth century in southeastern New England. Like most square plan houses, the frame includes corner posts and one intermediate post per wall. Unlike the typical square plan building, the chimney is in a central, as opposed to an off-center location, and instead of a single girt on the first floor spanning the building from front to back positioned over the intermediate posts, two girts flank the chimney mass independent of the posts. The building preserves period finish materials on the interior, such as raised and fielded paneling and vertical sheathing. The stairs have been relocated and certain partitions were repositioned or removed. The original chimney, supported on a brick arch in the cellar, was altered to relocate the oven opening and reduce the size of the fireboxes. Rare early or original puncheon stairs give access to the cellar. The current roof and its framing are apparently a late nineteenth century alteration. Evidence in the plates suggests that the original roof was some variant of a hip or gable on hip roof. On the exterior, what must be the original beaded weatherboards remain on a side wall, while early clapboards finish the other walls. An early painting of the house shows a one-story wing on the rear. The current owners enlarged the rear wing recently.

Documents indicate that the property was owned by Nathaniel and Esther Chickering when the house was built. The property has been in the hands of the family of the current owners since 1882.

The architectural description was complied from notes by William Finch.

Documentary information was provided by Bonnie Fryer.

Miles, D H, and Worthington, M J, 2006 “The Tree-Ring Dating of the Chickering-Francis Farm, 85 Walpole Street, Dover, Massachusetts”, ODL unpubl rep 2006/10




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Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory

Michael Worthington
Jane Seiter, Ph.D

25 E. Montgomery St.
Baltimore, MD 21230