Over the past twenty years, dendrochronology or tree ring science has become the most accurate scientific way of dating timber frame structures. The growth of a tree is mapped out by a unique pattern of rings. These rings can be viewed under a microscope and matched with a data base of tree ring patterns to make a precise determination of the year when a tree was felled and sometimes even to the season.
Dr. Daniel Miles completed the first phase of the Lowell Mason House dendrochronology study in May 2010. Dan is a dendrochronologist from Oxford University, England. He has been studying timber frame structures in the United States and England for many years
The Lowell Mason House dendrochronology results are astounding. Quite often structures are dated newer than what is commonly known. But the Mason house has dated to a much earlier time than previously thought. Keep in mind that only the attic and roofline have been tested and often rooflines are replaced. The main body of the structure remains to be tested and is likely to date to an earlier time than 1744. More sampling and testing will be preformed to conclusively determine the age of the main frame of the structure.
The most exciting news from the Lowell Mason House dendrochronology testing is that two reused beams in the attic date to the 1650 and 1651. These dates correlate with the signing of the town charter and the corporation of the town respectively. Another beam dates to 1675, which could have been from new construction after the burning of the town during King Philip’s War in 1676. For the full report click here.
There is also a great deal of original material in the house which will benefit from a full restoration. These include original interior doors and door hardware to gunstock posts on the 2nd floor. While the Lowell Mason House first priority is to get the ground floor ready for occupancy, we are looking forward to restoring Lowell Mason’s birthplace to showcase these historic features.