Tree Ring Study
Victorian additions in green
At the request of the T. Thomas Fortune House Foundation and Mark Fitzsimmons Architect, a dendrochronological (tree-ring dating) study was performed on the T. Thomas Fortune House at 94 Drs. James Parker Blvd., Red Bank. Richard Veit, Ph.D., performed the fieldwork in June of 2017. A total of six core samples were taken from timbers in the structure. None correlated particularly well with any of the regional master chronologies; however, they do provide some clues as to the structure’s age.
The building is unusual in that removal of the plasterwork inside the house had revealed several different construction episodes. The main block (northern section) facing Drs. James Parker Boulevard was revealed to have a heavy timber frame construction. With large hand-hewn timbers mortised and pegged in place. This frame extended through the first and second stories of the building. The frame is consistent with construction techniques practiced in Monmouth County before c. 1840.
The section of the house that runs perpendicular to Drs. James Parker Boulevard, or southern section, was framed with sawn timber. Even more additions had been made on the rear of the building using dimensional lumber. The building’s mansard roof, seems to have been added when the southern section was added and uses similar lumber. The cellar of the house also supports the idea that the house was constructed in several sections.
The main block (northern section) has a mortared fieldstone foundation, overlain by a brick foundation. This may indicate that an earlier building stood on the site and that when the current structure was constructed or renovated the foundation was raised. A sand-filled well was noted immediately behind the cellar’s rear (north) entrance. The current building known as the T. Thomas Fortune House shows several distinct construction episodes. It appears to have begun with a two story, rectangular timber-frame building that was later expanded and improved to form a vernacular Second Empire house.