Antique New England Architecture

















Back toArchitecture

 Post and Beam Construction

The earliest Colonial houses in New England are adaptations of the modest English domestic buildings which had undergone a transition from Medieval to Renaissance. Post and beam construction consists of a timber frame of vertical posts every 6 ft. or more and horizontal beams mortised to the ends to form rectangular areas (rooms) The frame in the earliest buildings rested on timber sills on the round and later granite. The roof consisted of beams pitched to form the roof and mortised where they joined. The walls were shingled and the interior walls could have been filled with a plaster substance and whitewashed. The floors were dirt and later wood. Windows were small to preserve heat and glass panes had to be imported from England. The chimney was a central or offset structure, open to the roof. The steeply pitched roof was first made of thatch but the harsher climate with snow and ice soon forced the colonists to use wooden shingles. The high pitch which was originally needed to lay the thatch was gradually lowered as buildings were adapted to the new world.

These pictures are reproduction homes built at Plymouth Plantation in Plymouth MA where authentic building techniques can be seen. There are also many original homes still in existence built between 1690-1720 used as private residences all over New England.


This is the Bryant Cushing House in Norwell MA built in 1698 and still relatively unchanged. It is a wonderful example of an early colonial home built by a prosperous owner. There is a lovely door frame showing the early Georgian beginnings and a massive center chimney.

This site created by Sandra Pollock at Real Site Design
Copyright Sandra Pollock
(no part of this page or anything on this site may be copied for use on the internet)