Interior of an English Wigwam
Thatch as a roof covering has been alluded to.
This was common in the early days. Notwithstanding the fact that the Great
and General Court forbade its use, it still persisted as necessity arose.
At the outset, towns along the coastline would set aside certain parts of
thatch banks in the marshes, as a supply for thatching houses. Rye straw
also was much used for thatching and has been used in thatching the roofs
of the cottages in the present colonial village. The roofs of these thatched
houses are not boarded as the thatch is fastened to slats.
The earliest frame houses were covered with weatherboarding and this before long was covered with clapboards. The walls inside were sheathed up with boards moulded at the edges in an ornamental manner and the intervening space was filled with clay and chopped straw, and later with imperfect bricks. This was done for warmth, and was known as "nogging," following the English practice. When roofs were not thatched, they were covered with shingles split from the log by means of a "frow" and afterwards hand-shaved. The window openings were small and were closed by hinged casements, just as the houses in England were equipped at that time. Generally, the casement sash was wood, but sometimes iron was used, as was common in England.
The glass was usually diamond- shaped, set in lead "cames." Emigrants to New England were instructed by the Company to bring ample supplies of glass for windows, but the supply ran short and in the poorer cottages and wigwams, oiled paper was in common use. This was an excellent substitute and supplied a surprisingly large amount of light, as may be noticed in the present wigwams.
A brickyard was in operation in Salem as early as 1629, and everywhere along the coast clay was found and made up into bricks. Bricks in small quantity may have been brought from abroad as ballast in ships, but it is safe to say that nearly all the chimneys were built with bricks made near at hand. Chimneys were built upon a huge stone foundation. The brick work began at the first floor level and the bricks were laid in puddled clay up to about the ridge line where lime was used as the chimney top became exposed to the weather.
The furnishings of these houses were very crude. Only a few pieces of furniture,such as oak chairs and chests, were brought from England. The emigrant carpenter or cabinetmaker made up tables, stools, and beds as occasion demanded.
One of the first estates probated in the county was that of the widow Sarah Dillingham of Ipswich, who died in 1636. It amounted to £385, a goodly total for those days. Her kitchen was well equipped with all manner of utensils and plenty of tablecloths and napkins, but there were no curtains at the windows, and a table, chair, or stool is not listed in connection with the kitchen. There were cushions, and probably the simplest kind of furniture sufficed. Stools, chests, and table boards were in use; bedsteads were low; and many pallet beds were made up on the floor. There were no carpets on the floor nor pictures or other decorations on the walls. Kitchen sinks were unknown and water was brought into the house in wooden buckets from the spring or well. These early houses had no closets and clothing was kept in chests and boxes.
The site of this Colonial Village at Salem is directly on the harbor and when selected was barren of trees and shrubs -a piece of undeveloped park land. A pond was excavated and a shore line constructed from surplus material. A spring was located in a depression in the hillside and from it a brooklet flows down tot he pond. Several hundred boulders were brought and placed in suitable locations, especially along the line of the brook, and over two thousand native trees, stumps, shrubs, and vines were planted to give the Village the natural setting that it deserved. About the governor's "fayre house" is a garden filled with herbs and flowers. Elsewhere, tobacco and common vegetables are growing. The stocks and whipping post stand in the village street and at various locations may be seen dug-out shelters for animals, a saw pit, fish flakes, a blacksmith's shop, and apparatus for making lye, and evaporating salt. Seldom has reproduction of the past been carried out with such fidelity and with such success. The entire project reflects the greatest credit upon all concerned and proved to be an outstanding feature of the tercentenary year. The attendance was large and, public school authorities at once recognizing its educational importance, it has been decided to preserve the Village for the future and keep it open to visitors with an admission charge to help maintain the up-keep.
English Wigwams, First two Covered with Bark
Continued on Page 4. and Hathaway House.
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Information on these pages provided by:
Gerald G. Johnson, Ph.D.
648 Salem Heights Avenue, So.
Salem, OR 97302-5613