Figure 1. Original façade.

The façade of Ham House was the only reason the building was designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. The original north face frontispiece, window casings and pilasters with capitals survived, as did the frieze. The eave and its cornice and pilaster bases did not survive. The outline of Doric Order triglyphs over the pilasters was visible in the paint of the frieze, but had been replaced with Victorian brackets when the projecting cornice had been replaced with a standard overhanging eave, probably in the 1860's. Window casings had survived all over the building in varying degres of decay. Only in the east gable did Doric Order mutules and associated cornice moldings survive, though there were some short lengths of moldings in the soffit returns that were likely from the original inner cornice.

Figure 2. Surviving gable.

The window casings on the south and west faces of the building were quite a bit plainer than those on the east and north faces, and there was no evidence of decoration on these faces. The building was constructed on the corner of the lot and it seems the intention was to infill the lot to the west and south.

We had anticipated that a restored north facade would have been impressive, but we had no idea the east facade was in fact the most important. There were clues we did not immediately grasp.

Figure 3. Original entablature bracket

First, there were notches in the attic studs of the east gable, and even a surviving bracket lying on the attic floor. Second, there was a door in the middle of the gable wall that provided an entrance to the store. Around the door and in thirds across the gable wall was blocking matching that of the north face to accommodate a frontispiece and four pilasters. It wasn't until nearly 2 years into the restoration that we understood these details The gable brackets were to accommodate a classical entablature and it seems originally the east facade formed a classical pediment. This was corroborated when pieces of the east facade decorations were found having been used to frame in an interior staircase where the framer wrote;

F ?? Bath, September 13, '96


Figure 4. Blocking in gable wall for pilasters and frontispiece

It seems the east facade was stripped off in 1896 and presumably this was also the date the building was re-sided. Facing the road to the docks, the east face of the building was originally the most important.

The Ham House facade is an excellent example of U.S. Federal Period architecture, characterized by impossibly delicate details to separate it from the earlier Georgian architecture (of which the Federal Period was a part) and the later and clunkier Greek revival period of architecture. The pilasters coupled with gable mutules show it was after the Doric Order of classical architecture, but very much a vernacular rendition. A particularly American feature of the building are the drilled mutules, an innovation of Asher Benjamin for wood construction, meant to mimic the look of pegs found in the mutules of the 'correct' Doric Order.

Figure 5. The Doric Order of classical architecture (American Builders Companion, Asher Benjamin, 1816)

The vernacular nature of the decoration is seen in surviving gutae of the Doric Order which should have six 'fingers', but in the Ham House facade had 7.

Figure 6. Seven 'finger' gutae

With the combination of a surviving entablature bracket, the gable eave and the surviving frieze board, it was possible to deduce the height and projection of the original roof line. The gable rake terminated in the top of the entablature instead of joining with it as would be correct in a classical pediment, This is sometimes referred to as a 'poor man's return'. In the eastern soffit returns were short sections of millwork that appeared to be original to the building. These profiles (K and L in Figure 7) in combination with blocking necessary to accommodate mutules over the pilasters worked out precisely to the distance between the bottom of the original cornice visible on the frieze board and the entablature soffit in the gable.

Figure 7. Projecting eave

With offsets between the eave and the roof line known, it was clear the original eave projected from the rake of the roof. Though problematic for ice damming in Ontario winters, the projecting eave likely accommodated a hidden eaves trough. Curiously, this detail is more common of England than the U.S.

One final detail was the east gable window. Under the siding of that gable was original sheathing still in place. This was tongue and groove intended to show a smooth finish. Though the casing of this window was gone, the surviving interior framing made it clear this was not glazed but rather louvered for ventilation. Driving rain made it clear that had anyone cared about the building, it would have been glazed long ago so the decision was made to glaze it with an Oval light.

Figure 8. Original gable with oval window

A survey of oval gable windows from buildings of around the period of Ham House along with experimenting with visual balance of the facade had us settle on a window with an open middle light and 12 outer segments.

Figure 9. New oval window

Construction of the oval window and even its casing was not trivial.

Dave White of D. J. White Restorations built the new windows and did the work of milling the duplicate pilasters of the east facade. Even milling the pilasters was involved as the original fluting tapered with length and had to be shaped by hand.

Figure 10. The restored facade