African House is part of Melrose Plantation and is located south Natchitoches, Louisiana. This photo was taken in December 2013.

African House is part of Melrose Plantation and is located south Natchitoches, Louisiana. This photo was taken in December 2013.

African House is a historic timber and low-fired brick building located at Melrose Plantation which is presently owned by Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches. Melrose Plantation began in 1796 as the Louis Metoyer Plantation and is located south of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Melrose Plantation has a long history with several key time periods. It was originally cultivated by a member of the Metoyer family. Marie Therese Coin-Coin, who is the matriarch of the creole Metoyers, and her descendants established the Cane River Creole community which is still a vibrant community today. [1] For more information on the Cane River Creole community please visit St. Augustine Historical SocietyCane River National Heritage Area, and the Louisiana Creole Heritage Center.

African House is located at Melrose Plantation behind the main house and was constructed in the early 1800s.[2] It is a 2 story brick and timber framed building that has had many uses during the almost 200 years since its construction. Presently it is open for tours and houses murals painted by Clementine Hunter on the second floor. The first floor is constructed of low-fired bricks and the second floor is timber framed with a large hipped roof. The design and construction of the African House is very unique and is likely one of the best examples of African/French building traditions in the United States.

[1] Cane River National Heritage Area

[2] E. Eean McNaughton (2006). Historic Structure Report for African House – Melrose Plantation.

 

Laura Saeger Christian photo documents the structure during the site visit.

Laura Saeger Christian photo documents the structure during the site visit.

Interior shot of the roof structure taken after removing a section of the ceiling.

Interior shot of the roof structure taken after removing a section of the ceiling.

Rudy explains to Andy Ferrell what the cut marks show in a rubbing of a timber.

Rudy explains to Andy Ferrell what the cut marks show in a rubbing of a timber.

Ed Fitzgerald works with a partner to measure the length of the timber on the north wall.

Ed Fitzgerald works with a partner to measure the length of the timber on the north wall.

Rudy explains to the group during the site visit how the cut marks and construction can tell a story.

Rudy explains to the group during the site visit how the cut marks and construction can tell a story.

Rudy investigates cut marks on timber on the inside wall.

Rudy investigates cut marks on timber on the inside wall.

East wall of African House in December 2013.

East wall of African House in December 2013.

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training is partnering with the Preservation Trades Network, the Association for the Preservation Historic Natchitoches, and the Friends of NCPTT are partnering hold a workshop investigating the engineering issues facing historic timber structures. This workshop will bring in preservation engineers, timber framers, site managers, historic building owners, and other parties to discuss best practices for planning and implementing these multi-faceted projects. The focus of these workshops will be African House, which a 200 year low fired brick and timber framed building, located at Melrose Plantation outside of Natchitoches.
The workshop will be held Feburary 9-12, 2015 in Natchitoches, La. Classroom sessions will be held at Lee H. Nelson hall with site visits to Melrose Plantation and Magnolia Plantation. While the main focus of the workshop will be the preservation of the structure itself we will also look at the issues facing the Clementine Hunter murals that are housed on the second floor. The murals add another layer of complexity as consideration also needs to be given to protecting the murals and the lighting needs.
Details
Date: February 9-12, 2015
Cost: $399, $349 National Park Service, and $199 for students
AIA CES: More information available shortly
Location: Melrose Plantation, 3533 Highway 119, Melrose, LA 71452 — (318)-379-0055 http://www.melroseplantation.org/
For more information please visit https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/events/engineering-for-historic-timber-framing-workshop or email Sarah Marie Jackson at sarah_m_jackson@nps.gov.

Lisa Sasser

Lisa Sasser

Lisa Sasser has worked in preservation since 1972, beginning as a Museum Technician at the Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, Texas. In 1977, she received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Texas Tech University, completing as a thesis project, a Historic Structures Report and restoration plan for a post-1680 houserow at Tesuque Pueblo, New Mexico. From 1979-1984 she was employed as a Historical Architect on the Northeast Team of the Denver Service Center, the centralized planning and design office of the National Park Service. In 1984, she entered the National Park Service preservation trades training program at the Williamsport Preservation Training Center (now HPTC) in Williamsport, Maryland. After completing the trades training program, she remained on the Training Center staff as a Supervisory Preservation Specialist and Senior Historical Architect. In 1993, she became the Assistant Chief Historical Architect for the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. She worked in the Northeast Region of the National Park Service as a Project Manager and Facility Management Coordinator from 1996 until her retirement from the National Park Service in August 2009. She currently provides consulting, teaching and technical services for documentation, conservation, repair and maintenance of historic structures. Lisa is a founding member and past President of the Preservation Trades Network, and past President of the Timber Framers Guild.

Rudy Christian

Rudy Christian

Rudy R. Christian is a founding member and past president of the Timber Framers Guild, founding member and past president of Friends of Ohio Barns, founding member and past Executive Director of the Preservation Trades Network and is a founding member of the Traditional Timberframe Research and Advisory Group and the International Trades Education Initiative. His experience includes participation in the Quingue Forum, numerous speaking engagements and instructing educational workshops as well as publication of various articles about historic conservation. An article entitled “Conservation of Historic Building Trades; A Timber Framer’s View” was published in the APT Bulletin, vol. XXXIII, No1 and his recent collaborative work with author Allen Noble entitle The Barn; A Symbol of Ohio has been published on the internet. In November 2000 the Preservation Trades Network awarded Rudy the Askins Achievement Award, for excellence in the field of historic preservation. Rudy’s educational background includes the study of structural engineering at both General Motor’s Institute in Flint Michigan and Akron University in Ohio. He and his son Carson have also studied historic compound roof layout and computer modeling at the Gewerbe Akademie in Rotweil, Germany. He and his wife Laura Saeger Christian are active adjunct professors at Palomar College in San Marcos, California and approved workshop instructors for the Timber Framers Guild. Rudy’s professional experience as President of Christian & Son, Inc. includes reconstruction of the historic “Big Barn” at Malabar Farm State Park near Mansfield, Ohio and relocation of the 19th century Crawford Horse Barn in Newark, Ohio. These projects featured “hand raisings” which were open to the public and attracted a total of 130,000 interested spectators. He also lead a crew of timber framers at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, Masters of the Building Arts program in the recreation and raising of an 18thMall in Washington,“ DC. Roy Underhill’s “Woodright’s Shop” filmed the event for PBS and Roy participated in the raising. Christian & Son’s recent work includes working with a team of specialists to relocate Thomas Edison’s #11 laboratory building from the Henry Ford Museum to West Orange New Jersey where it original was built, and the restoration of the Mansfield Blockhouse a hewn log structure built by the military in 1812. During the summer of 2006 Rudy, his son Carson and his wife Laura were the lead instructors and conservation specialists for the Field School at Mt. Lebanon Shaker Village during which the 1838 timber frame granary was restored. In July and August 2008 Rudy and Laura directed and instructed a Field School in the Holy Cross Historic District in New Orleans in collaboration with the University of Florida and the World Monuments Fund. In 2012 Rudy served as “Visiting Artisan” during a timber frame workshop at Savannah Technical College. Traditional Building Magazine publishes Rudy’s blog A Place for Trades.

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119