Description of the Jean and Marie La tourrette Staten Island Homestead from 1893
Description of the Jean and Marie La tourrette Homestead from Harper’s Weekly December 31, 1892. This issue also includes a rendering of the house and iron work most likely done by Jean. Doing a google search one can find copies of this edition for sale at various sites. I bought just the rendering (the the entire edition) on eBay and there were several copies, for about $40.00 - but then found I could get the entire magazine for about that much on another non-eBay site....
Here you go....
Between St. Andrew's Church and Mount Izzard stands a stone house that antedates the Revolution by many years. There are a dozen or more of like pattern thereabouts, but a particular study was made of this one.
The house is built of rough stone and white mortar, with peaked roof covered with hand-made shingles.
Everything about the house is hand-made and home-made, and it stands to-day a monument
of the skill of its old builder.
There are four rooms in the house, all on the ground-floor.
The walls are nearly two feet in thickness, and above the rafters are several inches of stone and mud.
The kitchen is most interesting. The rafters are black with smoke, and, just above the hearth-stone, charred with the flame. The chimney begins at the rafters, about eighteen inches wide and three feet long, like a wide mouth to eat the flame and smoke, then it gradually tapers until the normal size is reached at the peak of the
roof. The hearth-stones are several immense slabs, like paving-stones, laid neatly on the ground even with the flooring. Upon this hearth the fire was built, and blazed merrily against the wall of the house, and above are bars and hooks from which the kettles and pots were suspended.
To the left is a small brick arch in the wall, which connects with the outside oven, the ruins of which are plainly marked.
The windows are small, with solid wooden blinds and heavy fastenings, for Indians probably lived nearby when the
house was built.
The wood-work of the house is fastened with heavy wooden pegs, and the latches and hinges on the
door are home-made and curious in pattern. One set of hinges is shaped something like a sunfish with an elongated tail, and the iron is wrapped around and around the upright bolt on which it swings.
Between the kitchen and the next room is a tiny entry, of which one side was utilized as a closet. There are two doors from this entry, one from either room, and by this means one might pass into the kitchen without allowing the smoke to fill the house. To judge by the walls and rafters of the kitchen, this precaution was necessary.
Each room has a double Dutch door leading outside, and the connecting doors are of plain wood.
In one room the walls are all paneled with small oblong pieces of wood set upright, and the effect is very pleasing. The beams on which the floor is laid rest on the ground, and are thick and solid, as are the rafters as well. The old high mantel has been taken away from the room at the other end of the house from the kitchen, to accomplish which part of the side wall was torn down. Outside the house, in the long weeds, was found an old hand-made plough and harrow, rude in make, and yet as effective as more modern implements.
Going through the deserted house, the window-shutters creaked in the wind, and there was a general sense of loneliness as we discovered each interesting point and speculated upon the pioneer who had done so well with so little.
There is no doubt about it, the men of the seventeenth century built better houses than we do to-day, so far as durability is concerned. They did not erect gingerbread structures and call them “Queen Anne”; they built before Queen Anne reigned, and built to outlast a dozen queens. Our successors will probably comment upon this a hundred years from now, when they come across these old houses, and compare them with like buildings of the present day. They will term us superficial, and we undoubtedly are. When we decide to build a house, we are in such a hurry to get into it that the work is necessarily hurried. But that is the fashion of the age, and a very selfish fashion it is, too. We will leave an enormous city crowded with big business houses and cramped dwellings, and a country dotted with strange specimens of hybrid architecture in all stages of decay, and posterity will wonder if we had no time for living and its attendant cares.