The Gamla Östanvik farm house

This is the "mansion building" of the Gamla (old) Östanvik farm. From the middle of the 17-hundreds this was the place of a manorial estate with a farm which involved the whole island of Nämdö. After the owner's death in 1855, the estate was divided into four farms. Some houses and barns at Östanvik where dismounted and the material divided among the beneficiaries. Then this place became the center of a new farm, not at all that extensive as its predecessor. The house on the photo has been claimed to be a wing of the original mansion buildings built in 1749.

A reason for this claim has been the excistence of a monogram on a chimney stack in the attic. The text on the stack reads "Anno 1749 JLB", i.e. Johan Lorentz Billing, who established the farm on this place in 1749.

To me, this house does not look as a house from 1749. More like something from the middle of the 18-hundreds, so possibly a dendrochronological investigation could reveal something of interest.

Up in the attic we sampled (cored) blocks in a wall towards the NW side of the house. We numbered the uppermost block 1 and the lowermost block 8. Blocks 1, 3 and 5 produced an end year of 1870. Block 8 produced 1748 as end year.

We then sampled two blocks available in an inner wall of the house in the entrance hall. Because of damage from wood worms I could not establish end years (cutting year) for the trees used for these blocks, though end years for the two (incomplete) samples gave 1792 and 1834.

From this investigation we could not exclude the possibility that the whole house was more or less built after 1870 using a mix of new and reused old blocks. Therefore we decided to try to get tree ring measurements from the protruding block ends at a corner of the house. After using a belt sander on the end of these blocks at the NW corner, I managed to take photos at a fixed distance from four of these blocks. All four samples revealed the end year 1748!

A short piece of a block left in the attic. This tree grew in the period 1628-1822, i.e. it was almost 200 years old when it was felled.
This type of slowly grown building material is seldom seen today. The mean ring width value is less than 0.8 mm and not only the outermost rings that are narrow!

From all this we consider the most probable scenario to be that the original house from 1749 is still in place, though it got an attic and a new roof in 1871 or somewhat later. I.e. the walls in the attic where built after 1870 using a mix of old and new wooden blocks. Apparently also the entrance was rebuilt during the 18-hundreds quite likely at the same time when the house got its new roof construction after 1870.

The Gamla Östanvik farm house around 1910. Photo by the school teacher Axel Funke.

More data:

In the summer of 2016, the house got new owners. In connection with repair work in a small room behind the kitchen, I had the chance to get some more samples, partly from big reused timbers laying under the floor and partly from blocks in the wall between the kitchen and the room.

It turned out that the timbers under the floor were reused timber probably all from the time around 1748. Why reused? They all had various grooves which were unjustified in their current usage. The blocks in the wall between the kitchen and the room all had the endyear 1748.

Because of the unmotivated grooves in the floor timbers, I would suggest that the floor was totally repaired long time after 1748, possibly when the house was converted in the time after 1870.

Data to download:
Series measured from samples in the house: GamOstanvikFarmHouse.fh
(The file is intended to be read with e.g. CDendro but it can be inspected with any simple text editor like Windows Notepad.)

The series marked with "NWCorner" are measured at the NW corner of the house. These series are based on photos taken with a camera at a short distance which results in paralax problems and a varying resolution (dpi value) across the photos. Therefore this data should not be used for anything else than crossdating.

The diagram shows that the house has two building phases, one with timber cut in the winter 1748/49 and another phase after 1870/71. Series numbered 31-36 are from the attic, series numbered 37-38 from the entrance, 42-45 from the NW Corner, 52-55 from under the floor and 57-60 from the wall between the kitchen and the room. Series number 30 is from a loose piece of timber with Waldkante found in the attic and dated to 1822. It is possibly related to another building project, e.g. a barn built at the water front (Swedish "sjöbod") and dated to 1822.

Original text: July 2014. Updated with "More data" 22 September 2016./Lars-Åke Larsson