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Isham, Norman Morrison, 1864-1943; Brown, Albert F. (Albert Frederic), 1862- / Early Rhode Island houses : an historical and architectural study
(1895)

II. The frame,   pp. 75-82


Page 75

CONSTRUCTION.
house is made, and some of it, in the chimney in the garret, is
beautifully white and very hard. Just when and how far this lime
superseded the old shell mortar is a question for further study.
II. TiE FRAME.
The SUMNIER is the beam which crosses the main room, the
"Fire Room" or "Hall," from    the end-girt to the chimney-girt
(see A  in Plates 4 and 5; see also Plates 7 and 37).  The word
is itself a relic of the Middle Ages, it is derived from the Norman
French "sommier," and finally goes back to the low Latin word
"sagmarius," a pack-horse. Its name is well applied, for it does
carry half the second floor, the other half of course resting on the
side -girts. It is not so deep by two or three inches as the girts
into which it is framed (see A, Plate 5), and is nearly I 2 inches
square. Its edges, as well as those of all the exposed framing, in
most of the houses, are chamfered (see Plates 54, 55, 56, 57, 58).
The joists which support the second floor and the third floor,
are framed into the summer. They are about 3 x 4 inches, set
with their depth vertical, as they are now-a-clays, planed quite
smooth and not chamfered. They are framed into the large beam
in various ways. A (in Plate 54) is the method employed in the
old Fenner house, while in Plate 56 is given that used in the
Olney house. The dovetail is used to form a tie, and prevent the
stick from being pulled out. Both methods are very good. There
is no case in Providence of a summer in the first story running
parallel with the beam before the chimney which we have called
the chimney-girt,' though the arrangement occurs in the second
story in the Thomas Fenner, the Arnold, and the Whipple house.
I This does occur in  South  County.  It is also  the rule in  Salem, Mass.  In  Connecticut the
summer runs as in Rhode Island (see Plate I).
75


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