Question re 'panelling' in 1923 bungalow.

bldn10August 1, 2010

I am buying a ca. 1923 bungalow in Memphis. I would call it Craftsman or Arts & Crafts but it does not have many of the features associated w/ those styles. It has the correct gables, overhangs, etc. but none of the interior characteristics like built-ins, beamed ceilings, stained glass, etc. I suppose it was a cheap, vernacular take on a Craftsman bungalow.

The question I have relates to the wall between the LR and DR w/ what appear to be original French doors. Both sides have vertical, random-width, tongue and groove wood panelling that is painted. My first thought was that someone panelled over the plaster but the trim is installed over the panelling and, peering through a socket, there is no wall underneath. Either it is original or someone did a really fine job of taking out the original plaster (or bookcases and columns) and reinstalling the trim. I would not have thought that this kind of panelling was even around in 1923, perhaps not even until the 40s'.

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If it really is tongue and groove, as opposed to 1970's cheap veneer panelling, then it could be original. Lots of Arts and Craft homes had real wood panelling. And of course t&g has been around forever; you see it in colonial homes.

Probably the only way to tell is to take it off and see if you can find remnants of an original wall. That is a drastic measure though. If you like the panelling, keep it. You may want to strip it if your house has stained trim work.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 12:39PM
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I have random width, T&G paneling in parts of my house that were built before the Civil War. By the time A&C came in, the material/method was already on its second or third style reappearance.

I think there may be some fine distinctions between Craftsman and Arts and Crafts style. Wall paneling like you describe seems more A&C, than Craftsman, at least to me (but it is not my main period of interest, so I may be wrong). There may be regional diffs. as well. Your local historical society may be able to put you in touch with other, similar, house owners help to sort it out.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 3:18PM
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Oh it was definitely around, I have some tongue in groove in an early 1800s house, but it's in the little foyer leading to the cellar and not in a main room. My folks, who owned a 1920-30s Craftsman home have it in their basement too, but not as a wall in the living area. They also had a little of it inside their pantry. Just because you don't see plaster under an electrical socket doesn't mean too much, however, If a wall was torn down to the studs, it may have been replaced by T&G.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 11:23PM
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