“High post” Capes, also known as “kneewall” capes are a variation of the Cape house dating back to the 18th Century, but came into their own from the 1830’s until the end of the 19th Century. Unlike traditional capes, in which the roof line begins just above the lower windows, the post and beam framing in a high-posted cape extends vertically past the first floor, increasing usable space on the second floor.
The knee wall on the second floor also created room for larger soffits, wider frieze boards and fenestration with small low windows. Ornamentation in early high posted capes tended to be minimal, but in the 19th Century featured elaborate doorway, window and cornice trim of the Greek Revival, Italianate, Victorian and Colonial Revival eras.
Nineteenth Century high-post Capes are found in several Ipswich neighborhoods, including “Ipswich Village,” East, Linebrook, Liberty and Maple Streets.
Saltbox and broken back Capes
An early form of the high posted Cape was for the purpose of adding saltbox or “broken back” extensions. There are at least three rare examples in Ipswich.
Abbot Lowell Cummings wrote that “the hall/parlor layout with a central chimney serving both rooms was firmly rooted in East Anglia by the beginning of the seventeenth century. Carried across the Atlantic by the first colonists, the pattern has persisted through three and a half centuries and survives today in the American builder’s vocabulary of styles as Garrison, Colonial, and Cape Cod houses.”
Prudence Fish wrote in Antique Houses of Gloucester, “The gambrel roofed story and a half cottages that dot the shoreline from Manchester to Cape Ann and all the way around our cape are the signature houses of Cape Ann… Strangely, there are only an occasional cottage here and there in (the rest of) Essex County. By 1800, the small vernacular houses once again were being built with pitched roofs although not a steep as in the first period. The new finishes reflected the Federal period and no more gambrel roofed cottages were built.”
1 thought on “High-posted Capes”
[…] you have colonial ties to Ipswich, MA, you might find an ancestor’s home: High-Posted Capes by Gordon Harris on Historic […]