Falmouth Field Guide

7 Lower Harbour Street

7 Lower Harbour Street is now a four room timber frame house on a brick pier foundation. John Harris, a gentleman of Trelawny, bought the lot from Samuel Barrett Moulton Barrett in 1812, and it is possible that the he built the original two-room structure and that it might have served either as his residence or as a rental property.1 If so, this example offers further evidence that the social station of house builders in Falmouth should be read in terms of architectural elements and finishes, rather than size of house. The narrow, one-bay wide house faces the street, and, as is typical for houses of this type, the entrance to the building is through the side yard.

The entrance door on the west wall and an adjacent louvered panel opens directly into the north room, which faces the street and contains generally superior finishes compared to the rest of the house. The three-part window on the north wall is a well crafted, six-over-six window with decorative trim and is flanked by louvered panels. A twentieth-century six-light casement occupies an early opening on the east wall, while the door to the rear room is located in the southeast corner.

Aside from the front window, there are other subtle examples of superior finishes in this room including the partition wall and the exterior doors. Planed sheathing on the partition wall is applied to the north side, presenting a finished surface to the front room, leaving exposed studs in the rear room. Two of the best doors in the house are in the front room, their applied stiles and rails giving the appearance of a six-panel door, oriented to the more important space: the front door toward the exterior, the partition door toward the front room. The rear exterior door, which now opens into a later addition, features three beveled battens and no applied stiles and rails. The twentieth century door to the west addition matches the early, best doors. The rear room is less well lit and less intact than the front room, with a louvered window, part of a twentieth century renovation, on the east wall. The west wall was also replaced, and a narrow door added to access the addition to the west. Presumably the east and west walls originally had windows, but the south wall shows no evidence of a window.

To the west is a one-room addition constructed in the early twentieth century. Connected to the rear room of the first-period house, the room has a finished tray ceiling and is now used for sleeping and dining. It Is likely that this room was added to serve as a more well finished public room.

All of the framing is exposed on the inside of the house, though only some of the framing members are beaded. The sill plates and joists have all been replaced, some with reused beaded timbers. It appears that all the early studs and posts may have been beaded (some studs have survived behind the casing around openings), though there is at least one post that is only planed and not beaded. All plates and rafters are hand-planed and beaded, as are the partition boards and lath supporting the shingles. The roof lath is replaced with beaded boards at the ends of the rafters as well as at the ridge.

The original structure had a hipped roof, while the rear addition has a shed roof and the west addition has a gable roof, oriented along a north-south axis. The roof is currently clad in corrugated, painted steel, installed over the original wood shingles.

1 Samuel Barrett Moulton Barrett to John Harris, 29 May 1812, Deeds, Island Record Office, volume 638, folio 160