Falmouth Field Guide

8 Princess Street

The house at 8 Princess Street is an important survival of an early twentieth-century type of board house in Falmouth’s historic district. Rather compact, it is approximately twenty feet wide and twelve feet deep. The house is a two-room building with front and rear entry into each room, with a communicating door between the chambers. Similar in size and materials to earlier Falmouth board houses, the situation of this house on its lot differentiates it from other examples. Earlier board houses tend to put their narrow ends toward the street, and with the primary doorway on the side façade, entered from a side yard. This house is oriented with the long side parallel to the street, with the front doors opening directly from the street. The shift in building orientation suggests a movement away from traditional building forms around the turn of the twentieth century; in fact, this house resembles standardized industrial housing found throughout the United States more than it does a traditional Falmouth house.

The front façade features two central doors, each with three panels of vertical beaded members. A shed-roofed porch, supported by concrete blocks, protects the doors from sun and rain. A railing surrounded the porch originally, however only a fragment to the right, a simple railing of undecorated horizontal members and vertical slats, remains.

Two six-light casement windows flank the doors, creating a symmetrical, four-bay façade. The structure is raised on cement block pillars, a common feature of many Falmouth houses, which allowed the house to be lifted and moved to a new site if rent became too expensive or relocation became necessary. The house is sheathed in horizontal clapboard siding with substantial beading, topped by a single hipped roof sheathed in corrugated tin. The two interior rooms communicate via an off-center, rear opening in the dividing wall. In addition to the casement windows on the front façade, sash windows on each side wall provide additional light into each room. A partition has been erected at the rear of the left chamber, which creates a narrow entrance space from the back door. A set of cement stairs leads from the back doors to a rear yard and work space where an outdoor cooking area remains.

EcoMod, a research and design/build program lead by John Quale, an architecture professor at the University of Virginia, that creates sustainable, prefabricated housing units, will be working on this building in the Summer of 2011 in collaboration with the Falmouth Field School. Students participating in the EcoMod program will be working to upgrade kitchen and bathroom facilities, as well as restoring the existing building.