DeMesa-Sanchez House - Field Notes on Attic Framing (9 pages)


Material Information

DeMesa-Sanchez House - Field Notes on Attic Framing (9 pages)
Series Title:
Herschel Shepard Project Files
Physical Description:
Shepard, Herschel ( donor )
Physical Location:
Folder: 7813 DeMesa-Sanchez House


Spatial Coverage:
North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- St. Johns -- St. Augustine

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID:

Full Text



Attic of kitchen and space to west.
Wall plate on north side is 4-1/2" deep by 8" wide and is hand-hewn.
There are a total of 7 ceiling joists spanning from masonry wall to masonry
Six of the ceiling joists appear to be hand-hewn.
The 7th, which is the 3rd going from east to west from the face of the chimney
in the east wall, has been cut apparently with a vertical stroke saw.
The joists appear to be equally spaced.
The first joist is located at the west face of the chimney in the east wall,
then the joists are equally spaced and the final joist is against the
masonry wall at the west side of the building.
The spacings of the joists varies 35-1/2, 36-1/2.
The approximate spacing on the average is around 36 inches on center.
The size of the ceiling joist is as follows:
Starting from east to west: 3-1/4 by 7-3/8; 2-1/4 by 7-1/4, 3-1/8 by 6 and
this is the member that is cut on a vertical stroke machine, 2-3/8 by 7,
2-1/2 by 7-1/4, 2-1/4 by 7-3/4 and the last one against the wall is 2-3/4
by 6-1/2.
This ceiling joist is hard against the face of a plastered coquina gable end.
The ceiling joists bear directly upon the plate at the north wall and on top
of the ceiling joints and notched down into the tops of the hand-hewn
ceiling joist is a 7-3/4 by 1" vertical saw supplementary plate upon which
the roof rafters bear.
The roof rafters are located approximately on the center lines of the ceiling
The rafters are toenailed directly upon this supplementary plate.
The fact that this plate is vertical sawn indicates that the roof has at least
been reframed.
All of the rafters have been vertical saw cut.
The depth of the rafter over the east masonry wall is exactly 4".
Then from east to west the size of the rafters is as follows: 3-7/8 by 3-1/8,
4-1/4 by 3, 4-1/8 by 3-1/4, 3-3/4 by 3, 4 by 3-1/8, 4-1/8 by 3, and 3-3/4
by 3, the last member being hard against the stucco surface of the gable
end at the west end.
Correction, the last member stands off the gable end by approximately 3".
These members are framed.on top of the supplementary plate on the north wall by
being toenailed to the top of the plate.
They are not notched in or over.
At the ridge, the rafters are butt jointed in a vertical joint and there is
evidence of a toenailed connection, although they may be spiked through
from above.
The shape of the gable is not symmetrical.
The south side of the gable is at a considerably lesser slope than the north.
At the north wall, the slope of the rafters is almost exactly 12 and 12.
The rafters on the south half of the roof are not the same size as the rafters
on the north, but are generally somewhat smaller, particularly in depth,
although the span is greater.


There are three collar beams or wind braces located at every other rafter.
]hese are scrap material measuring approximately 5 by 1/2.
Another of these braces measures 5/8 by 5-3/4.
This is the center one.
These braces are vertical saw cut.
The previous dimension was from the westernmost.
The easternmost is 3/4 by 5".
They are not installed horizontally, or level but slope up to the south slightly.
The size of the rafters on the south side of the gable are as follows, starting
with the rafter over the masonry wall on the east side:
First rafter is 3-3/4" over the masonry wall.
The next is 3-3/4 by 3, 4 by 3-1/4, 3-7/8 by 3, 4 by 3-1/4, 4-1/8 by 3, 4 by 3,
and 3-3/4 by 3 which is the last rafter on the west side adjacent to the
masonry gable end wall. (These dimensions depth x width)
The framing of the rafters to the supplementary plate on the south side is simi-
lar to that on the north.
The runners supporting the lath for the ceiling of the room below are circular
saw cut.
They measure approximately 3/4 by 3" and are spaced at approximately 16" on
center, but not exactly.
The laths themselves are circular saw cut at the ceiling.
At the south wall the ceiling joists are notched slightly to receive the supple-
mentary plate.
There is lath with stucco visible between the ends of the ceiling joists,and
supplementary short stub columns between the main plate and the bottom of
the supplementary plate act as nailers to receive the lath.
All of the lath and stucco work appears to be of recent origin.
The rafters over the porch to the south are scabbed to the east face of the
ceiling joist.
The tops of the porch rafters are in the same plane as the tops of the main
rafters and extend out over the porch, but it can't be seen from inside whe-
ther the roof pitch changes or not.
A typical porch rafter measures 3-1/4" deep by 2-1/4" wide: correction 2-3/4 wide,
although this may not be a true dimension due to the fact that these are
cut on a bevel at the ends where scabbed to the ceiling joists.
All roof sheathing boards appear to have been either vertical saw cut or were
run through a standard planing machine.
The latter seems to be more possible.,
These marks are almost certainly planing marks, in fact.
The edges of the sheathing boards were circular saw cut.
These boards measure 7/8 by 7-3/4 typically and are spaced apart slightly to a
varying degree sometimes a 1/4", sometimes up to 2".
All nails visible penetrating the sheathing are wire nails.
No cut nails are visible anywhere in this sheathing.
The bottom of the tin roofing is directly laid to the top of the sheathing.
At the east gable of this space, masonry work appears to have been accomplished
all at one time.
There are some cracks in the wall at the south half of this gable, the cause of
which is uncertain.
The chimney or upper portion of the chimney is not centered on the gable, and
in fact is of irregular shape.


The top of the fireplace or chimney extending up from the room below is not
symmetrical with the upper portion of the chimney extending through the
The portion of the chimney from the top of the ceiling joists to just below
the rafters is of coquina.
The portion of the chimney just from this point penetrating the roof is brick.
The top of the masonry terminating with the top of the ceiling joists measures
5'8" wide by 2'3" deep, measured from the inside face of the gable end out
to the west.
The center of this construction is approximately one foot south of the center
of the gable.
The upper portion of the chimney at the lower portion, approximately half way
up in the attic measures 1'9" by 3'11" and the north face of this exten-
sion is approximately 4" south of the north face of the masonry construction
The upper portion of this part of the chimney tapers in slightly to the bottom
of the brick work, which measures approximately 3' wide by 1' from the east
to west.
The north face of the brick portion of the chimney is about 1' north of the
center line of the gable.
The masonry gable end at the west end of this attic space appears to be symet-
rically constructed.
The center of its gable aligns with the ridge of the gable over the east room
and the gable end is symmetrical about this line.
It is apparent that this masonry construction preceded the wooden joists and
rafters visible in this eastern portion of the building.
At the south end of this gable end, a parapet wall projects above the low por-
tion of the gable.
This masonry wall is an extension of the masonry wall visible on the floor below
and forms a parapet that terminates within the attic space west of the gable
The gable wall apparently was constructed prior to the parapet for there is a
distinct construction line where the parapet meets the top of the sloping
portion of the gable.


The following is a description of the central portion of the house.
The masonry wall with the parapet located just off center down the middle of
this wing of the house begins at the gable end wall at the east end of this
portion of this house and extends to the west.
The evidence that the parapet was constructed after the gable end can be found
in first the construction joint which occurs between the masonry construction
and the gable end wall; secondly, in the fact that short kick rafters remain
which are not now in use and which have been removed for the six bays on the
east end of the structure.
These kick rafters supported a lower sloping roof to the south.
Below the kick rafters, there is evidence that earlier stripping was located on
top of the main roof rafters.
Therefore, this would indicate a sequence of three roofs.
The earliest roof, over this middle portion was a symmetrical gable, the slope of
the northern half of which was 12 and 12.
However, the southern half appears to be slightly greater pitch, perhaps 13 and
12, and it is obvious at the ridge that the angle thus formed is less than
90 degrees.

In any event, the ridge continues the ridge from the room to the east.
From botton of ceiling joists to top of rafter at ridge center line is
6' 8-1/2".
The rafters at the north wall spring directly from the top of the wall plate.
The wall plate is not continuous from the room to the east.
There is a butt joint within the thickness of the gable end wall.
In this portion of the house, there is no supplementary plate bearing on top
of the ceiling joists; rather the roof rafters spring directly from the
top of the plate and the ceiling joists are spiked with two large head
long spikes to the side of the rafters.
It is apparent that an earlier ceiling was in the room.
What appear to be earlier ceiling joists are located approximately 4" above
the top of the present furring upon which the lath is nailed.
The roof sheathing boards and metal roofing typical above the eastern room
are continuous above this room.
The width of the attic from face to face of roof rafter at a point even with
the top of the furring to which the lath is nailed is 129-1/2".
Inside dimension of the north rafter from ridge to same point on inside face
is 99-1/2".
Inside dimension of the south rafter is 96-1/4.
These dimensions were measured on the first rafter pair to the west of the
gable wall on the east side of the middle portion of the building.
The rafters are not side lapped but are mortised and tenoned together and
pegged at the ridge.
The south rafter contains the tenon; the north rafter, the mortise.
Pegs are hand carved and measure approximately 3/4" in diameter.
Over the gable at the east end, the first rafter pair is built into the top of
the gable and flush with the top of the gable.
These measure 3-3/8" deep by 3-3/4" wide.
The next pair measured: north rafter, 3-3/4 by 4-7/8; south rafter, 3-3/4 by
4-3/4, width by depth.
Supplementary rafter 2-3/4"wide by 4-1/4"deep.
This pair is marked with the Roman Numeral VIII.
The original pair are hand-hewn and the supplementary rafter is vertical saw
The next pair to the west, north rafter measures 3-3/4 wide by 4-3/4 deep;
south rafter 3-3/4 wide by 5" deep; supplementary rafter, 3-1/2 by 3-7/8".
Finishes same as noted before.
This pair has the Roman Numeral VIIII.
The next pair north rafter measure 3-7/8 by 3-1/2; south rafter 3-3/4 by 4,
both hand-hewn, Roman Numeral II.
Supplementary rafter is 2-3/4" wide by 3-7/8 deep vertical saw cut.
Bottom side of this supplementary rafter has evidence of nail holes and some
fire marking, which is true for the pair.
The next pair has the Roman Numeral X.
North rafter is flanked by a pair of 3/4 by 7-3/4 scabs full length nailed on
with cut nails.
The width of the original member is 3-3/4".
South rafter is 3-3/4 by 4", hand-hewn.
Supplementary rafter, 3-5/8 wide by 3-1/2 deep, vertical saw cut.


This pair of rafters occurs adjacent to and just east of the chimney at which
a break in construction is visible.
This pair is 16" east of the east face of the chimney.
Cumulative dimensions of rafter spacing measured from the inside face of the
east gable to the west are as follows: each dimension is read to the west
face of the rafter 32-1/4, then 68-1/2, 108, and 146-1/2 to the last
pair to the east of the chimney.
The additional dimension from the west face of this last pair to the west
face of the rafter occurring on the west face of the chimney is 33-3/4".
The original ceiling joists in this area are hand-hewn and measure approxi-
mately 1-3/4 by 3-1/8.
These joists may have been nailed to only one side of the rafters.
The plate above the north wall is in very poor condition and is approximately
5" in width.
Depth cannot be verified.
There are short stubbed columns located in the former parapet wall on the west
side of this attic space.
These columns support the supplementary rafters that continue the present south
roof surface.
These members are vertical saw cut and rest on plinth blocks installed in
notches which apparently were originally provided to receive kick rafters
similar to those still in existence in the westernmost part of this attic
not yet described.
These short stubbed columns measure 3 by 4; the first to the east, the second
is 3 by 7, the third is 2-5/8 by 8, and the last 3-1/4 by 4-1/8.
There is evidence in the north parapet wall that a wooden plate does support
the ends of the rafters on the south side of the gable.
This plate is built into the masonry wall and plastered over.
The chimney has a strange configuration in that only the eastern portion ex-
tends through the roof.
The bottom portion, which is supported by planks at the level of the plaster,
measures approximately 2'11" by 1'5" and extends above the ceiling approxi-
mately 2'3".
The eastern portion of the chimney extends through the roof.
The east face is flush with the lower portion and the upper part of the chim-
ney measures 13" from east to west and 18" from north to south.
The chimney is composed of an orangy brick under-fired and very poorly con-
It was apparently plastered or stuccoed on the exterior faces.


The following describes the western portion of the central part of the house
in the attic.
The general almost symmetrical gable configuration in this portion of the
attic continues as found in the east part of the attic.
However, this portion of the attic has a shallow inverted "tea tray" type
This may be an indication that the same type of ceiling was formerly located
in the eastern portion of these spaces.


The framing is similar to that in the eastern portion except that on the
ceilings a supplementary flat board has been located between each pair
of rafters, spanning from north to south to support the plaster laths.
These supplementary framing members vary greatly in size; some are hand-
hewn, some are circular saw cut.
None appear to be vertically saw cut.
All of these members are of scrap lumber, some of which has been used pre-
All of which is a clear indication that this ceiling is of relatively recent
origin in this western portion of the attic to the white boards located
in the attic space at the eastern edge of what may be the earliest portion
of the house.
There are, beginning at the approximate center line of the chimney, six pairs
of rafters and ceiling joists.
The rafters are numbered beginning at the center line of the chimney on the
Numbers VI, III, IIII, XI, V, and VII.
These members are all paired and are all hand-hewn.
These members appear to have a better hand-hewn finish than the members in the
eastern portion of the attic.
The first supplementary rafter on the south side of the roof located above the
approximate center line of the chimney is vertical saw cut.
However, supplementary rafter, at pair III is circular saw cut; also at IIII;
also at XI, V, VII.
In sighting down the kick rafters in this portion of the roof, it is apparent
that they do not intersect where the supplementary rafters bear upon the
wall at the south side of the house.
They fall a few feet to the north of that intersection if projected.
It should be noted that there are whitewashed wide planks measuring 1 by.
8-1/4 at the east end of the attic, and measuring approximately the same
plus or minus at the west end of the attic.
These planks are half lapped and are whitewashed both faces at both the east
and west ends of the attic.
The remains of these planks are also visible at the very top of the gable.
The planks are nailed to the west face of attic framing, and there is clear
evidence in the parapet wall to the south that these planks at one time
at least extended as high as the top of the kick rafters in those walls.
The planks at the west gable end went right to the ridge of the framing.
These planks are all nailed with hand wrought nails.
There is evidence at the west end that there were vertical studs to which
these planks were nailed at one point in time.
However, this may not be an indication of stud lines since these markings in
the boards do not seem to penetrate.
These boards were in place prior to the application of the last coat of stucco
to the parapet wall visible in the attic.
The dimensions of the shingle stripping located on the southern rafters is
approximately 1-1/4 by 2, and these members are located approximately
7" on center.
Shingle nails visible in this stripping are cut nails.
The stripping was apparently pit sawn (or hand sawn).


Some loose members of stripping in the attic indicate that the stripping
is held to the rafters with hand-wrought nails.
The west end of the middle section clearly demonstrates that the western
portion of the house preceded the middle portion, at least as far as
roof construction is concerned.
Portions of earlier stripping still exist adjacent to the whitewashed boards
at the west end of the middle portion of attic, clearly indicating that
the east slope of the west part of the building at one time continued
down above the plate of the west wall of the west portion of the build-


The following comments refer to the attic over the main western portion of
the house stretching from north to south.
All roof framing members in this portion of the attic are hand-hewn.
Some of the rafters are framed in cypress.
Ceiling joists appear to be pine.
Ceiling joists are half lapped into or onto the rafters and secured by two
The spikes appear to be hand wrought.
The ceiling joists are half lapped to the north face of the rafters.
The rafters are numbered with Roman Numerals which are not consecutive and
which read from north to south as follows:
Gable end framing is not numbered.
Then XVII, then XIIII, then XII, then XIIIII on the west rafter and VX on
the east rafter.
Next XI and IX respectively on the west and east rafters.
Next XIII and IIIX respectively on the west and east rafters.
Next X on both rafters.
Next IXX and XVI respectively west to east.
Next VIII both rafters.
Next VI both rafters.
Next II on west rafter; no mark on east rafter.
Next VII on west, VII on east.
Next V on both rafters.
Next IIII on both rafters.
Next III both rafters.
There are a total of 18 groups of rafters and joists from north to south, in-
cluding the one against the north wall and the one against the south wall.
The sizes of rafter groups and joists are as follows (width x depth):
From north to south, first note that the roof pitch is almost surely 12 and
12 as visually evident but not checked by measurements.
First group against north wall at both west and east rafters; width indeter-
minate because of wall; depth approximately 5", wooden peg at ridge is
The joist is spaced approximately 2" from the face of the wall and measures
3-1/8 by 4.


Group XVII: west rafter 4-1/4 by 5; east rafter 3-3/8 by 4-1/4; joist
3-3/8 by 3-3/4.
Group XIII: west rafter 3-3/4 by 4-5/8; east rafter 3-3/4 by 4-3/4; joist
2-7/8 by 3-3/4.
Group XII: west rafter 3-3/4 by 4-1/2; east rafter 4 by 4-1/2; joist 2-3/4
by 4-1/2.
Group XIIIII and VX: west rafter 3-1/2 by 4-3/4; east rafter 3-3/4 by 4-1/4;
joist 3-1/2 by 4-1/4.
Group XI: 3-1/2 by 4-3/8; 4 by 4; 3-1/2 by ?-3/4.
Group XIII: 4 by 4-3/4; 3-1/4 by 4-1/2; 3-1/4 by 3-1/4.
Group X: 3-3/4 by 4-1/2; 3-3/4 by 4-1/4; 2-3/4 by 3-3/4.
Group XXXI and XVI: 3-1/2 by ?-3/4; 3-1/2 by 5; 3-1/4 by 3-1/2.
Group VIIII: 4-1/8 by 4-1/8; 3-3/4 by 4-1/2; 3-1/4 by 3-3/4.
Group VIII: 4-1/4 by 4-3/4; 4 by 4-1/4; 2-3/4 by 3-1/2.
Group VI: 4 by 5, 4 by 4-1/4; 3 by 4-1/2.
Group II: 3-1/2 by 4-3/4; 3-3/4 by 5; 3 by 3.
Group VII: 4 by 4-3/4; 4 by 5; 3 by 3-3/4.
Group V: 4 by 5, 4 by 4-1/4; 3-3/4 by 3-1/2.
Group IIII: 3-1/2 by 4-1/4; 3-1/2 by 4-/34; 3-1/2 by 4-1/4.
Group III: 4 by 5; 4 by 4-1/2; 3-1/4 by 4.
Final group is partially built into the south end wall.
The width of its members could not be determined.
The depth however is 5 on the east, 4-1/2 on the west.
The joist is approximately 2 to 3" off of the face of the wall and measures
3 by 4-1/4.
Three-quarter inch thick boards span across the bottoms of ceiling joists to
support lath for plaster ceilings.
These members are approximately 16" on center and average 4 to 6" in width.
At the eastern edge of the main house attic, rafters kick out from the main
rafters on the east side to the top of a later parapet apparently construc-
ted on the existing masonry wall below.
This must be verified, however; this parapet appears to be a continuation of
the south wall of the center space of the building.
A valley beam continues the slope of the kicker rafters from the middle por-
tion of the building around the corner and along the east side of the main
portion of the building.
A shaped valley board is still located above the valley rafter.
There is evidence between the kicker rafters and the spring line of the main
rafter that an earlier roof continued down to an earlier ridge or eave
opposite the plate.
The inverted dished ceiling of this portion of the house is considerably
higher than what appears to be dished ceilings in the middle portion of
the house.
The plate line appears to be approximately 11" measured vertically from the top
of the lath to the top of the plate on the intermediate partition running
east to west across this portion of the building.
This portion of the building exhibits the same milled sheathing boards seen
elsewhere and the metal roof continues above this portion of the building
At the ridge, the rafters are mortised and tenoned and held by means of a wooden
peg approximately 5/8 to 3/4" in diameter.
The tenon is on the east members; the mortise in the west members.



At the partition flanking the fireplace in the middle portion of the build-
ing, the studs appear to be rough sawn circular cut members to which
the whitewashed planks are nailed in at least one case with wire nails.
Faces of the present chimney adjacent to the whitewashed planks do not bear
any evidence one way or the other as to whether the planks butted the
chimney in their present configuration or not.
At the masonry gable wall, at the east end of the central portion of the
building and at the west end of the kitchen area, the southern extension
of the gable is wood framed.
The gable wall tends to end at the south face of the parapet extension.
In any event, there is no evidence of the masonry wall extending to within
at least 2' of the attic south of this gable.