Jane Griswold Radocchia is an architect.
Jane studies practical geometry and vernacular architecture.
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Below are some of her latest blog posts, some others can be found on this web site's Archive
Jane Griswold Radocchia
Jane Griswold Radocchia
Practical Geometry workshop,
Feb 25. 1-3 pm
North Bennet Street School,
----------------- Most Recent Article -----------------
Monday, November 20, 2023
The Practical Geometry of the Parson Barnard House:
This is the second part of my study of the use of geometry in the layout and design of the Parson Barnard House, in North Andover, Massachusetts.
Here's the house. The left section, the 'front', was built in 1715; the saltbox added in 1720. The rear extension to the right came in the 1950's.
For my first post on the Parson Barnard House please see the link at the bottom of this page.*
The first floor plan shows the 2 back wings. The middle section, labeled kitchen, back hall, and study is the 1720 saltbox addition. The laundry and entry spaces were added 230 years later.
The plan shows a step down into the saltbox addition.
The side elevation also shows this step down. The dashed lines locates the floors and the step down.
The layout Lines locate the inside edge of the posts and the inside width between the posts on either corner of the house. Together they outline 3 sides of a rectangle, the layout for the bents of the frame. The radii of the arcs is the width of the frame. They cross at the placement for the lower side of the beam which supports the attic floor joists. It is the upper beam of the bents that frame the house.
This use of geometry matches the way the parlor width was determined. The thin black Line marks the rectangle which is the inside of the bent.
The rectangle from that layout crossed with its diagonals. Where the Lines cross is the height of the beam which carries the second floor joists.
*See note below for more information.
For reference here is the geometry of the first floor plan with the Hall on the right, a square; the Parlor on the left, a rectangle whose width is laid out by the arcs. This geometry is laid out from the inside edges of the posts.
When the same geometry is used to lay out the bent using the width from the outside of one post to the other as the dimension, the crossing of the arcs is at the upper side of the attic beam.
**Look back at the elevation of the house with the rectangle derived from the interior dimensions. Note that the second floor and attic windows - which appear to be original - are centered on the space. Using the outer dimensions the windows are no longer centered.
Here is the design for the 6 bents for the Parson Barnard House (without the braces). This simple layout requires only basic knowledge of Practical Geometry.
The bottom red line is the sill.
* The Practical Geometry of the Parson Barnard House
As an architect based in Bennington, VT. and Andover, MA. I work with old houses and the families who love them.
During this time, I have worked with over 1200 houses, some modern, some 300 years old.
I am an architectural historian by accident. I found I was showing friends and clients the historic environment they lived in but did not see.
I know from my work as an architect how available materials and technology influence design and construction.
I am most interested in vernacular architecture, how we built to suit our climate and our needs using the tools and materials we had.
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Architecture (Current Blog)
Passing By (Original Blog)
Sunday Drives (Original Blog)
Comments / Reflections
Thank you so much for this lovely article. This church was well loved & had at least a dozen families attending when it closed down. It is sad to see it be torn down, instead of being preserved as a community space. The one blessing is that we can finally see the beautiful architectural elements you describe, which were hidden to all of us by the drop ceiling. Lovely that the church still stands in this elemental fashion for a few more months. More