Sunday, June 26, 2011

House of a Different Color

Last Sunday I went up to Fort Ouiatenon to volunteer at the Blockhouse. The blockhouse is open to the public on the weekends through the summer. Volunteers open, close and answer questions for the visitors. This was built in 1930 by a Doctor who believed he knew where the real fort had once stood. He bought the land and built the fort. Turns out archeological digs in the 1960's proved he was only about a mile off. Pretty darn good guess!
The Doctor used it to entertain guests and from what I understand held dances and parties on special occasions. He was obviously a history buff so no doubt he enjoyed telling his guests all about the Fort. When he bought the land it was used for farming so there were no trees on site to build with. Instead he bought telephone polls and had them delivered to the site.
The blockhouse rests on a concrete foundation which has no doubt helped it survive the years. He donated the land to the county and it is now owned by the Tippecanoe County Historical Association.
Close examination of the notches reveals the combination of techniques the Doctor used. On the top of each course he made a saddle notch to wick moisture and on the adjoining bottom of the next course he contoured the notch with a chisel to make a tight fit. Over the years the original daubing has been resealed using what appears to be Perma-chink or some such mortar. In places where the mortar needs repair you can see shake type shims of wood used as backing for the mortar to cling to.
The conical shaped roof is supported with no central center post using a secondary series of supports mid-way down the main beams like a large umbrella frame. As you can imagine I had a great time!