HAMLETT-SMITH HOME

NARRATIVE

The house is a tri-level, built in the early 1860ís probably of Greek architecture. Most of the materials came off the farm and were cut, sawed, and dressed by slave labor. It was designed and built by Joel Flippant Hamlett. Hand-made brick was used in the foundation, pillars, chimneys, and cellar. We found a block of mortar near the east chimney when we installed heating gas line. On the slab was scribed "Capín. Seeley", the name of the bricklayer who did the work.

The original roof was made of heavy galvanized metal with copper. In 1945 a tornado damaged half of the roof. We had decking put over all the roof and covered it with composition shingles.

All frame-work was made of white oak. Weatherboarding was made of blue poplar; 16 to 18" planks for boxing near the roof and molding were made of heart pine. Four corners of the main house have a 10" square solid upright beam where weatherboarding is joined. All around the main part of the house a water board is used above a 16"wide plank below the weatherboarding. The gutters rusted out and were never replaced.

All floors, woodwork, windows, doors and frames are made of heart pine. All windows and doors in the main part of the house are 8 ft. tall, and ceilings are 14 ft. high. Walls are plastered with special hair and filler with 1" laths 2" apart to hold the plaster. All rooms except the northeast room were plastered in pastel colors: tan, blue, green, and gray. The northeast room was papered, and the original paper is not faded and is still in good condition.

The second level of the house has a 9Ĺ ft. ceiling, and the ceiling is made of beaded pine 2Ĺ to 3" wide. Floors are different width planks and are made of pine. Two front doors, side panels, and transom above doors have special bentwood molding. Doors are 1 ~/2" thick and have plain glass in side panels and above doors. There are keyhole covers only over keyholes on two front doors. Special molding is on doors, panels under windows, baseboards, mantles, and trimming. Only the northeast room with the wallpaper has special panels under the windows. The windows have twelve panes each. Four chimneys remain (2 destroyed by storms); two flues are still in use. In the four rooms with chimneys and fireplaces, a window is placed next to the fireplace and mantle. This was necessary for the mother to do sewing, knitting, quilting, etc. by natural light and by the heat of the fire. All mantles are hand made of pine. The one in the southeast room replaced a window in 1870 when the boy, Joel E. (Jody), was born, and they had to have heat in the room. That mantle is of a different pattern more simple. A brass doorbell (dated 1867) was put in the side panel on the north front door; a hand crank on outside and bell and clapper on inside -by turning slightly has a louder tone - reverse and a dull tone. The back hall was open dog-trot style until northwest porch was enclosed for a bathroom in 1918. The same bathroom fixtures are being used now.

The side southeast porch was enclosed with screen and later glassed in with windows. The south back porch was enclosed with screen, and in 1948 windows and storm windows were installed. A simple and unique stairway in the hail was used as protection from fire. It is still in use. A storage room between bedroom and dining room used by the Hamlett family as a commissary for food storage is now a storage and clothes closet. An oversized chimney and fireplace in west wall of the kitchen was used for all cooking. It could accommodate a large wash kettle for washing clothes, boiling whole hams and large amounts of meat. It was destroyed by a tornado possibly in 1918. A large cellar, bricked and plastered and with a dirt floor, under the dining room (frost proof) was used for canned and dried vegetables, fruits, vinegar, molasses, etc.

A two-story smokehouse with open brick furnace for smoking meat is still in good condition. A 20 ft. trough, hand-hewn from a 50" diameter poplar log, was used to salt hams and shoulders of meat. Shelves were built around the other walls for salting bacon and curing bones and sausage. The trough was hewn by slaves named Ned Trice and Sam Hart. When the meat was cured and smoked, the hams and shoulders were hung upstairs (2nd floor) for safekeeping. The other half of the trough, which was used at the barn as a watering place for animals, has long since rotted by water and the weather.

Five cisterns originally furnished water for both people and animals. Two cisterns under the roof of the back porch served as refrigeration for milk and butter and the other for meats. The one in the yard next to the side porch is now filled with dirt and was the drinking water. One remains now at barn and could be filled with water if a gutter was installed so that water from the barn roof could run in the cistern.

The original gasoline pump is still here near the tool shed. It was the first one in Chester County in 1918 and was put in by Standard Oil Company. The gasoline was only used for tractors as coloring was put in gas and it could not be used in cars.

The large dinner bell stands near where it did originally and is still in use, and it can be heard a long distance.

The east outside porch floor is the original one. Two step treads that were originally used here remain as treads at the north porch steps. Old granary in back yard is only one left and in use. Wheat and other grain was stored in this. The original barns and log cribs which were built with slave labor still remain in use. Early horsedrawn farm equipment is still housed in barns. Old anvils and other tools used in early days are preserved.

There is little information on the name of the architect who helped Mr. Hamlett with design and plan. We do know all buildings were built with slave labor.

REFERENCES

INTERVIEWS WITH ELDERLY PEOPLE WHO LIVED NEAR: Mr. Joe M. Frye, Mr. Luke Trice, and Mattie Trice Tillman, cousins

BLACK NEIGHBORS AND LANDOWNERS: Luke and Marshall Trice and wives, Allie and Minnie; their mother Caroline McCorkle Trice

THE HISTORY OF CHESTER COUNTY, by Rev. S. E. Reid

LETTERS WRITTEN TO ME FROM ELIZABETH GILLESPIE

REFLECTIONS, PREPARED BY FIRST STATE BANK 100th ANNIVERSARY

PERIODICALS FROM HISTORIANS

 

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