Thursday, December 19, 2013

They don't build 'em like they used to!

A visit to the York House Inn is a truly relaxing and romantic experience, but it is also a retreat into history for some.

Some visitors focus is on some of the interesting construction features of the York House Inn. Some of
workmanship can be seen by guests visiting the Inn, just by a walk around. Visiting our “Papa Bill’s” Rock Room gives one a feel for the construction of the 1840’s. Other things are back of the house, or even under the house for that matter.

Good Foundations make a great house

The original log structure for the York House was constructed in the mid 1840’s. As part of this construction, huge pieces of granite were cut from The White House property. These pieces of granite, some weighing several tons, I am told were moved the ½ mile or so by oxen. It must have been a unbelievable task placing these stones. The White House was a prominent landmark in Rabun County as it was the first property actually painted (white I imagine!). The property was sold at one point to the York family and was part of the land holdings for many years. As part of our collection we have copies of the original deed documents.

This quarry provided granite for the basement, chimneys and foundation of our structure. This same granite must have supplied rock for our existing Spring House as well. The last pieces of granite were set in the 1907 period and were placed as the footers for the added structure. Even walking around our property, one runs across pieces from this construction.

Basement Detail

Beams are the next step

On top of the footing, the sills for the structure are of hand finished Chestnut log. The logs were finished most likely with a broad ax. Sills are notched. The sleepers of the structure (holding up the floor) are also Chestnut each is approximately 18” x 18”. I have not found where the sleepers are lap joined with the sills, but this is the usual method.
Granite supports under the house

What began as a cabin became an Inn

The cabin itself is also constructed of chestnut logs, dovetail joined. This notching is a very time consuming task also done with ax. The workmanship is fine as the corners all appear square rather than a more casual overhanging notch. We have not found any chinking of the logs. It existed in this manner for many years, and certainly until after the 1903 period we have pictures of. At that time the building was sided in pine and painted white. This general theme continues into the 1907 period when the 2 up and 2 down cabin roof was raised to it’s full two story height and the rest of the structure and wrap around porches was added on.
Note siding over logs and transition to new part of structure

Chimney and notch cabin details in our giftshop area

In the attic crawlspace of the original cabin, one can clearly see the large chestnut log plate, again hand finished and placed. On top of these approximately 9” x 12” and full length of the cabin structure new sawmill pieces were used to add height to the roof as it was extended upward. None of the original gable or rafters exist and no notching is evident on these original pieces. Following that new ridge  roofing on the second floor gives the upper rooms ceilings of 12 foot height.
Attic transition original to that added in 1907

Attic wall detail at transition to new 1907 area


Original interior walls present in "Deliverance" room
That’s all we have discovered about the York House building, but it’s enough to keep even the most historically motivated guest busy for days! Hurry and visit.