Falmouth Field Guide

6 King Street

The house at 6 King Street is one of Falmouth’s best-preserved pre-1835 Falmouth buildings, a distinctive example of a four over four plan that does not adhere to a typical central-passage Georgian layout. The house is a two-bay, two-story frame house, with a longitudinal hipped roof over the front (west) rooms and a narrower hipped roof that covers the two, smaller rear (east) rooms. The exterior siding consists of flat boards, planed and beaded on both sides, although shingles now cover some of the exterior. A construction date between 1815 and 1835 seems likely, based on material evidence.

Further investigation of the house suggests that the house was originally a single-pile structure, and the rear range of rooms was added shortly after. The original stud framing the door between the two left rooms was cut for a window head and there is evidence of unweathered sheathing on the back wall.

On the second story, an original doorway allows access between the large, front rooms. From each large room, a doorway communicates independently with the smaller, back rooms, which also have a doorway between them, creating an internal circulation system. The interior frame is fully exposed, with beaded posts, studs, braces, lower edges of plates, and joists. The transverse partition consists of unbeaded sheathing applied on the left side, so studs are visible in smaller room. Rafters and shingle lathe are exposed, planed, and beaded. Interestingly, beaded boards of 8”x1’ are used instead of shingle lathe at the ridge, to protect the roof at its most vulnerable point.

The first floor plan virtually mirrors that of the second floor, except that what was probably the front entrance opens into one of the smaller rooms. The first-floor doorway that opens directly on to the street is of uncertain date. Although there is no evidence for an interior stair, it is thought that the house was originally constructed as a single-family dwelling, with a stair possibly rising from one of the rooms.

After the addition, an exterior stair gave access to the upper level. The double-height porch runs the full depth of the structure, with a contemporary joined, beaded frame and round-topped rails tenoned into chamfered posts. The stair rises from back to front, ending behind an original door, flanked by moveable louvers and no glazing. The door features an all-beaded frame with cyma backbands on the outer edge, reminiscent of doorways that face side yards in Charleston, South Carolina.

Access to the second-story on the opposite, southern façade, is reached by a modest stair and platform added when tenants divided the upper floor. This door has early trim, heavy stiles and rails, and four panels nailed on with handmade rails.