McGuffey House Architecture: Placement and Basement

Side of McGuffey House

As this image shows, the house is rather deep and narrow. This plan is not accidental. The large windows afforded maximum natural light into the rooms, no small consideration given the fact candles or whale oil lamps were originally the main sources of illumination. The house also had an east-west orientation that provided optimum lighting and excellent cross ventilation during the hot summer months. Bear in mind the brick addition now housing the Library was not built until the late 1850s, so it is almost certain there initially were outside doorways on all four elevations of the house.

Joist Showing Kerf Marks

Joist showing kerf marks

There is a basement underneath the kitchen and dining room portion of the house. The floors are supported by 3 x 8 ash floor joists with 21 centers. The kerf marks on the joists indicate they were sawn by a reciprocating saw. All of the cut lumber used in constructing McGuffey's new house may have been milled at Well's Steam Sawmill. The 1836 map of Oxford shows this mill just west of town near present day Contreras Road. It is also possible the lumber was cut at any of the several nearby water powered mills, including Zachariah DeWitt's sawmill along Harker's Run. It can be said with certainty the wood used in any framing and trim work for the McGuffey House would have come from either virgin or very old growth trees growing in or near Oxford.

Stephen Gordon, Curator
Fall 2006

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