Falmouth Field Guide

16 Cornwall Street

16 Cornwall Street is the result of three distinctive building phases over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The oldest block is a now-buried south-facing, two-room house with a gable roof. Its situation deeply set within the lot is unusual and suggests that it might have been moved; small, early houses were usually constructed much closer to the street. While some large houses are recessed from the street, it is likely that this oldest portion of the house was at one point moved back from the street to its present location.

The framing finish suggests that this portion’s original construction postdates 1820-1830. Framing members are fully planed, but posts, braces, and studs remain unbeaded, while the plates, central joist, upper stud in the partition, and rafters are all beaded. Posts and studs are tenoned and pegged, while braces are not visibly pegged. Particle board now covers the rafters, which remain unpainted.

Entry into the oldest portion of the house was likely through a door centered on the south wall of the east room and hung on small HL hinges. The door’s superiority is evident from the rails and battens molded with thin, Greek-inflected cymas and angled fillets. This original principal door gives entry to the best room, to the east, or right, in the original structure. A beaded board door hung on small HL hinges at the north end of the partition opened into the lesser room, to the west in the two-room core. The superior room had a window on what is now the east short wall; in the west room, a sill slot in an early stud indicates the existence of a centered window on what was the south-facing wall. The core now has two north doorways with only the 20th century fabric exposed – the associated wall framing is hidden.

The house grew substantially with the addition of three rooms and a porch to the south between 1880 and 1920. The addition consists of two rooms directly adjoining the southern wall of the old block, a large entry room centered between the two, and a Victorian-detailed porch, which surrounds western, southern, and eastern walls of the front room.

The main entry is a six-panel door, with panels raised inside and out. The door has a decorative sawn and unglazed transom within a beaded frame that incorporates the flanking windows. The front room is filled with light from six-over-six windows on the west and east walls and flanking the front door. The rear rooms are darker, lit only by one end window in each room. The three new rooms maximize circulation between each other and between the new and old sections of the house. The front room opens into both of the new rooms, which open into each other and to the two old rooms.

The modern, two-room addition behind the core structure, adds two more chambers to the house. The smaller west room, has the most limited access of any room in the house. The room behind the original east room has a doorway to the yard in the back of the house. These spaces may have been added to accommodate kitchen and bathroom facilities