1The building was called the Pate House until April, 2003, when it was changed to Cole Digges House based on this report. The report was written in 1998-99 and revised to reflect the change in July, 2003. For a full treatment of the property's documentary record, see Charles E. Hatch, Jr., "The Thomas Pate House and Lot 42 in Yorktown, Colonial National Historical Park," Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service, Division of History, Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation, October, 1969. The text of the Hatch report is included as Appendix I of this report.
2Denchrochronologist Herman J. Heikkenen of Dendrochronology, Inc., Blacksburg, Virginia, took samples from tulip poplar second-floor joists, rafters and collars, all with bark or natural edges. Results have not been received in June, 2004.
4Both the front and right front (southwest end of southeast wall) doors had leafs with panes of glass above the lock rail. Such doors were common on Virginia stores through much of the 19th century and were rare, at best, on houses. Insurance policies for 1838, 1846, and 1853 all describe the building as "dwelling and store." Hatch, illustrations 2-4.
5John Henry Scarff (1887-1964) studied architecture and entered the profession at a still eclectic time when designers worked in many period and regional styles, though early American idioms were favored, particularly for middle-class houses. Scarff studied at MIT and the American Academy in Rome, worked for Wyatt & Nolting in 1912-14, for Alfred Hopkins in 1917-18, and returned to Wyatt & Nolting in 1920. Wyatt died in 1933, and Scarff is said to have managed the firm until its dissolution in 1940. He directed the Historic American Buildings Survey in Maryland during the 1930s and was later secretary of the Society for the Preservation of Maryland Antiquities. Most of his known projects were for new construction rather than restoration, though his last work was restoration of the Mother Seton House on North Paca Street, Baltimore in 1963, a year before his death. In 1930 he published Some Houses of Colonial Maryland (New York: R.F. Whitehead, c. 1930). Information, Peter Kurtz (Maryland Historical Trust) to Chappell, February 5, 1999. The firm of Wyatt and Nolting did one house and at least seven banks and public or commercial buildings in Virginia between 1897 and 1930. John E. Wells and Robert E. Dalton, The Virginia Architects: A Biographical Dictionary (Richmond: New South Architectural Press, 1997), p. 493.
6Professor Gardner from MIT recommended Scarff to Paul. Paul was the client, though the house was to be occupied by fellow D.A.R. member Emma Chenoweth. Helen and Carroll Paul lived in Marquette, Michigan, and virtually all the surviving correspondence (in the Cole Digges House property file, Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown, perhaps acquired when the Park Service bought this property as well as the Nelson House from the Blow estate in 1968) is between Marquette and Baltimore. Scarff remarked to Paul that he was "in perfect sympathy with your desire to restore [the house], and not to remodel it" in a letter of July 12, 1924. In a remarkable three-page letter of August 19, 1924, Paul explained changes she had made to Scarff's early floor plans, ranging from her intention to use the entire front cellar as a museum and meeting room for the Daughters of the American Revolution, to her concern that Scarff would sacrifice character for a sense of order: "To my way of thinking the stiffness of an axial arrangement is not the proper 'part' for this cottage, whose casual irregularity has such a delightful flavor of the country and of the English who built it. In consequence, I hesitate to destroy any single peculiarity, and would, for instance, rather kink my garden path than erase the funny little cellar entrance which may not be as old as the rest of the house, but which is charming just the same, and has been there long enough to have grown into the picture of the house. Let's see just how much of the odd irregularity we can keep, and fit our modern changes in so that when we get it done, it won't look like an old house done over at all, but as if it had always been that way." Paul to Scarff, Aug.19, 1924, p. 3. Also see her letters of February 28 and March 16, 1925. Gardner's recommendation is noted in letter from Scarff to Paul, April 14, 1924.
7The main building at the College of William and Mary offers an instructive example of 1690s Virginia brickwork. While this edifice, now called the Wren Building, was expensively constructed, its brickwork lacks the regularity of bond and general care in execution seen at the Cole Digges House.
8There is one small brick resembling a closer just right of the present left window, three courses below the cornice, but all the brickwork around it appears to date from 19th-century alterations and later restorations, diminishing the credibility of this as evidence for left-hand windows in roughly the present location.
12This analysis is based on observation of the brickwork. Looking at the 1863 photograph of Main Street and post-Civil War photos on July 30, 2003, it appears the left chimney was still centered on the ridge in the 1860s and that it was soon thereafter rebuilt toward the rear.
14Browne Eichman, Dalgliesh, Gilpin and Paxton, P.C., "The Pate House, Yorktown, Virginia: A Preliminary Plan for Adaptive Use as a Restaurant for the National Park Service, The Colonial National Historical Park," report, December 5, 1995.
1719th-century left chimney was built roughly on center, perhaps because of the available old chimney footings, and corbeled out 1' 7-1/2" to the rear (northeast). This apparently did not provide sufficient support and as a result, the void below the corbeling was bricked in sometime later in the 19th century.
18The 1925 restoration plan for the upper floor employs the old term "chamber" intended as a heritage reference. "Restoration of Cottage for Mrs. Carroll Paul, Main and Reid Sts., Yorktown, Virginia," second-floor plan, January 26, 1925, initialed G.E.W.
19Paul to Scarff, February 28, 1925, p. 2: "Mr. Paul questioned the use of white pine, on ground of expense, but I told him it had to be for correctness of period. The question in my mind is, would oak be just as expensive, while just as correct?" Scarff to Paul, March 7, 1922: "I would under no circumstances consider the use of oak, it will be out of the local period, and also more expensive in working up. Mr. Marshall has just told me that in tearing down the partition between the dining Room and rear stair hall an old doorjamb and a portion of a boarded wall was uncovered. The detail of the doorjamb corresponds exactly to what we show on our working drawings, and the boarding is of pine, which confirms me in my original plans. (We are planning to re-use the old pine boards)."
20Scarff and Chenoweth identified the high front sidewalk, slightly above the first floor, as a major problem. and he suggested raising the floor after his first site visit. Scarff to Paul, July 12, 1924, p. 2, and July 17, 1924. Later the same month he reported, "I am raising the first floor approximately seven inches, which will materially help the conditions at the main entrance door. This is bout all it can be raised to have the staircase headroom practical and keep the window sill at a normal relation." Scarff to Paul, July 28, 1924, p. 1.
22Scarff was clearly interested in giving the new wood walls a dark, aged appearance, as evidenced by his specifications calling for "all interior wood work except floors...to be first coated with a saturated solution of permanganate of potash, and after that is dried a water stain is to be applied of walnut crystals repeated until the proper color is obtained." This would have given the new white pine a dark, walnut hue. The color of the wood today is certainly darker due to aging, smoke and cooking since 1925. Scarff specifications, January 26, 1925.
23The specifications call for reproduction locks from Hubbard and Eagleston and wrought-iron hardware manufactured by Myron S. Teller, 280 Wall Streeet, Kingston, N. Y. Scarff specifications, pp. 7-8.
27Wyatt and Nolting must have produced detailed drawings for the stair and other specialized finish, but the only known stair drawing is a 1/4" = 1' section on the 1925 second-floor plan. While they corresponded about the stair's location, Scarff and Paul seem not to have discussed its design.
29Scarff included a statement about the roofs character in specifications written August 27, 1924: "Roof of best grade cypress shingles, 6" x 20", laid 5" to the weather. It will be required to lay these roof shingles over some sheathing boards, carefully placed to give the appearance of an old roof where the ridge sags slightly. This is to be done to prevent the mechanical appearance of a newly constructed roof.
Last Updated: 19-Jan-2005