News And Events

England and New England influences in the Colonial Architecture of Southern New Jersey

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On Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 3.00 p.m. at the Kirby Arts Center at the Lawrenceville School, Joan Berkey, who is an architectural historian with over 30 years of experience working with historic buildings, will talk on the English influence on the architecture of southern New Jersey historic houses. Her expertise is in heavy timber frame—also known as post and beam—construction, with an emphasis on those buildings erected before 1750.  She prepares nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, conducts historic site surveys, and helps towns create historic districts.  With degrees in English and Historic Preservation, she has published five books about historic sites and buildings.  Joan and her husband live in Cape May County, in a ca. 1790 heavy timber frame house they restored.

For the past 15 years, Joan has studied the heavy timber frame buildings in Cape May County and neighboring Cumberland County.  While heavy timber frame construction was common in New Jersey until about 1840, few colonial examples remain, and of those still standing from that period, most appear to be located in these two southeastern New Jersey counties.  This area of southern New Jersey was settled by English-speaking people who emigrated from either New England, Long Island and/or northern New Jersey, or directly from England, and brought their construction practices with them.  Many of the buildings erected in these two counties before ca. 1730 feature such England-derived characteristics as summer beams, exposed joists, and shouldered corner posts, all decorated because they were exposed.   Ms. Berkey will examine how the timber frame tradition in southern New Jersey was tempered by natural resources, climate differences, origins of local carpenters, and changes in construction technology.


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