Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory - Massachusetts


Gedney House

Gedney House, 21 High Street, Salem, Essex County, Mass (42.518706, -70.897459)

(a) Primary Phase Felling dates: Spring 1664 and Winter 1664/5

(a) Storey post 1663(¼C); Studs (2/5) 1663(C2); Rear girt 1664(C); Chimney girt (0/1). Site Master 1555-1663 GHS (t = 5.21 ALC3; 5.15 PHD-2; 4.87 ITH)

(b) Lean-to reconstructionFelling dates: Spring 1703, Winter 1704/5, and Winter 1705/6

(b) Front girt 1702(8¼C); Studs (1/2) 1704(C); Rear wall plate 1705(C); Principal rafter (0/1). Site Master 1655-1705 ghs15 (t = 6.45 BOSTON01; 4.84 GCG-1; 4.75 ALC2)

Eleazer Gedney, a shipwright, acquired the land upon which the house was built on April 20, 1664, and commenced almost immediately to build his house. Gedney married in June 1665 the sister of John Turner of Salem who built the well-known House of Seven Gables about 1668.

The Gedney House, as originally built, had a room and chamber under a gable roof north of the chimney bay and an end lean-to south of the chimney bay. These spaces were designated in an inventory in 1683 as the Hall, Hall Chamber, and "parlour or lento" respectively. A rear (east) lean-to containing a kitchen was also present by 1683, and was perhaps original.

In 1706, the south end lean-to was raised to a full two stories, and the end wall facing the street was given a framed overhang above the first story. By 1800 the earlier rear lean-to had been replaced with the present two-story lean-to. The house was acquired by SPNEA in 1967 after a previous owner had gutted the interior for conversion into new apartments. The society chose to leave the interiors as is, to undertake only necessary structural repairs, and to present the building as an architectural exhibit.

The first phase roof structure consists of a common rafter roof with butt or tenoned purlin, whilst the end extension has a common purlin roof. There is evidence for wind braces to the purlins.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6

Link to the Historic New England's webpage for the Gedney House here.




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Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory

Michael Worthington
Jane Seiter, Ph.D

25 E. Montgomery St.
Baltimore, MD 21230