Friday, May 9, 2014

Livingston House, Clyde River, c.1840

           Here's some information I just came across about the Livingston House located on Route #247 on the Clyde River, P.E.I.
I took the above photo on Oct. 10th , 2007
            The following info cf:  History and Stories of Clyde River – 2009. Pg. 104-107
            The Livingston House The generations of Livingstons who have lived on this property are as follows: Donald Livingston (1780-1870) married to Flora MacPhail (1781-1865), Son Archibald (1819-1909) married to Margaret Dixon (1823-1910), Grandson Boyd (1859-1932) married to Daisy Marshall (1877-1961), Great grandson Watson (1900-2000) married to Lillian Hyde (1901-1989), Great great granddaughter Wanda, born in 1928 married to Eric MacPhail, born in 1926. Present occupants in the renovated Livingston house are great great great granddaughter Ruth (Alan Nelson) and their children, Callie Angelina and Drew Watson. Eric and Wanda MacPhail received an award for their work in preserving this heritage home.
            Family history states that Donald first built a small house or cabin near the water. When they cleared more land, they built a larger house back from the river. A depression in the land shows evidence of the cellar of the second house. Wanda (Livingston) MacPhail's great great grandfather Archibald built the current house on this property in 1840, about the same time the road was built (now named the Clyde River Road). Until the mid-1900s, this house accommodated three generations. There were eight bedrooms, none too many at the time when Donald and Flora had nine children and Alexander and Margaret had five children. In 1999 Watson and Lillian Livingston's daughter Wanda and her husband Eric MacPhail undertook an extensive renovation of this house. This earned them one of that year's PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation awards (1999). This house is a historic gem according to Boyd Beck.
             The award is to recognize the work they have taken on and for the classic farm yard, and classic farm house. The giant hemlock planks that were used are a rare irreplaceable find in Island architecture.
            In an interview for The Guardian, Eric MacPhail offered this information. The 1840 house is a plank house built on a six foot foundation of dressed fieldstone. All the timber was cut on the farm. The walls are made of hemlock plank three inches thick, hand sawn in a saw pit, one man on top of the timber and one in the pit pulling and pushing the cross cut saw. The sills were eleven inches wide and eight inches thick, while the plate above was eight inches square with a three inch groove in the centre. The planks were inserted into the groove and held by two hardwood pins, one inch in diameter driven into holes bored by hand through plank and plate. The inside of the planks were strapped with three inch by one inch strapping, lathed on top and strengthened by animal hair. The cellar was hand dug. It looks like the floor boards were laid before they were completely dry. They shrank over time leaving wide gaps in the under floor. What an incredible lot of work! Wanting to preserve the integrity of the house, Wanda and Eric MacPhail had the hemlock boards removed and later reset them closer together. The mantle and the small pane windows were saved. More than 130 panes were carefully cleaned, sanded and re-puttied. Some original horse hair plaster work was repaired and the original hemlock floors were refinished. Wanda MacPhail explains: "The kitchen has seen many transformations. We even had an 'outdoor kitchen', really a living room area, tucked into a lean-to for relaxing after a day's work was done." In 1962 the extra kitchen was removed. During renovations, the MacPhails found twenty feet of stovepipe zigzagged around the joists to the brick chimney and the flue. How the flue drew is a mystery! Ruth and Alan Nelson have also done renovations and have balanced having a convenient and modern home with preserving its original special features.

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