Here’s a sneak peek at an upcoming post (I’ve got a lot of work to do before I’m ready to share it with you).
Above is Rambo House, a hotel once located on Swede Street in Norristown, Pennsylvania, across from the County Courthouse. Nathan Rambo, a onetime owner of the property, is a cousin (something removed) of mine. I pulled his will and the inventory of his belongings for a research project. In trying to build the context for his properties, his community, his life and times, I discovered a fire insurance survey for Rambo House.
Cor. Swede & Penn Sts.,
(Opposite Court House)
Norristown, Montg. Co.
House Large & Commodious
Table Well Supplied,
And the Bar always Stocked with the
Best Brands of
Liquor and Segars.
Fire insurance surveys are wonderful research tools, providing detailed descriptions of a building from top to bottom. To read the Rambo House survey, click here for a downloadable pdf file or simply scroll down. The image and this document is all that is left of Rambo House. It was demolished in the 1970s. (A bill for wallpaper discovered in my research, allowed me to suppose that Nathan Rambo’s residence, across the river in Bridgeport, probably also featured wallpaper in its public rooms.)
Franklin Fire Insurance 0/23260
Survey made and reported to the Franklin Fire Insurance Company of Philadelphia for Nathan Rambo of his three story brick dwelling & tavern house with back buildings on the northwest side of Swede Street on the Lot North corner of Penn and Swede Street, Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Building 51 feet front by 34 feet deep
Back building 22 feet wide by 30 feet deep
Cellar under front house divided by walls into three parts (A roadway in basement 10 feet wide for carriages to pass through into Tavern Yard not dug out under)
Ground floor, joists of Basement floor 3 by 8 inches, 18 inches apart
3 small windows 3 lights each. Steep stairs up to first floor. Basement story walled with stone.
Basement, divided into three rooms and Roadway. 8.6 feet high in the clear. Ceiled, plastered & painted. W. pine floor narrow. Washboard. SW office, 2 windows front, 12 lights: 8 by 16 inches and one window back 12 lights: 10 by 16 inches, all double hung on weights. Double paneled Shutters 1 1⁄2 inch thick. Iron strap hinges and bolts.
Out door front 2 inch thick knob lock. Two lights over in square head. Large closet with two doors. Board partitions across office with double doors in knob lock. Hatchway door over cellar stairs. Middle office same. NE office has no partitions, is otherwise alike.
4 in. Grecian moulding finish
First Story – One Room, 10.6 feet high in the Clear. Ceiled, plastered & painted. Yellow pine floor narrow, washboard. Five windows front and 4 back. 12 lights: 10 by 18 inches, double hung on weights. Double panel shutters 2 inches thick. Iron strap hinges and bolts. Middle window front with 2 small doors under to open (shutters down the whole length) onto a piazza 3 1⁄2 feet wide the length of house. Resting on cast iron brackets every 4 feet. Three wooden joists 3 by 4 inches with yellow pine floor. Iron Railing 36 inches front and sides. Heavy pattern. Two doors two inches thick, knob lock, to steps down to Bar Room.
Door to back part 2 inches thick. Knob lock. 4 inch Grecian moulding finish.
Second story – front part 9.4 feet high in the clear. Ceiled, plastered and painted. White pine floor narrow. Washboard. Divided by entry 5 1⁄2 feet wide through the middle of house the whole length. Five rooms front and four back with back entry, one window to each room, 12 lights: 10 by 16 inches double-hung with weights, double-paneled blinds 1 3⁄4 inch thick. Iron strap hinges and bolts. Door to each room and back entry 2 inches thick, knob lock, transom over, one light hung on pivots.
In Back Entry is Close Winding Stairs to Third Story. Stair door 1 1⁄2 thick, knob lock, large closet under stairs, large door, door from back part double, 2 inches thick, knob lock.
4 inch Grecian moulding finish to this story.
Third story front part 8.83 feet high. Ceiled, plastered & painted. White pine floor, narrow. Washboard. Divided as below into 2 entries and nine rooms. Eleven windows, 12 lights: 10 by 14 inches hung and Blinds as below. 10 doors 1 3⁄4 inch thick. Knob lock and pivot transom over. Close winding stairs in entry. Two stair doors. Knob lock 1 1⁄2 inch thick. Narrow closet.
3 1⁄2 inch Grecian moulding finish.
Garret beam nothing Peak 9 feet high. Double pitch.
Rafters 3 by 5 and 6 inches — 18 inches apart from center to center, Supported by Purluns[?] The whole length 8 by 6 inches resting on end walls and 5 truss. String piece 8 by 7 inches, Main braces 8 by 6 inches, 2 posts 8 by 6 inches cross brace 8 by 6 inchyes and back braces 4 by 6 inches Pinned together with iron bolts. Covered with slate 7 2/3 inches to the weather. Not floored. One window in end, 12 lights: 10 by 12 inches, with blinds as below. Walls of front and back are 1.3 inches thick in basement stories, through residence 9 inch walls. Walls in basement, between the offices and roadway 9 inches thick. All of good hardburned brick, the front pressed brick laid in white mortar. Marble facings to the basement front. Partitions in 2nd and 3rd Stories are lathed and plastered studding. Doors are all paneled in back part. Cellar 7 1⁄2 feet deep. Walled with stone. Ground floor, 3 windows, 3 lights. Winding stairs to basement above joists 3 by 10 inches, 16 inches apart from Center to Center.
Basement, kitchen, one room. Ceiled, plastered and painted. White pine floor, narrow. Washboard. Out door 1 3⁄4 inch thick, knob lock and lights over. Door from foot of stairs going up and at head of stairs door 1 1⁄2 inch thick, knob lock. Four windows, 12 lights: 10 by 14 inches, hung and shutters as front. Dresser closet, 4 doors large shelved closet with door, large dumb waiter box, and brick oven projecting into room, about 6 feet square.
3 inch Grecian moulding finish.
First story – 9.4 feet high in the clear. One room, 4 windows, 12 lights: 10 by 16 inches hung and shutters as front. Door from front, and out door 2 inches thick. Knob lock. Dumb waiter, range large, dresser closet 4 doors. Shelved closet, large door. Wooden mantle.
4 inch Grecian moulding finish.
Second story. 8 2/3 feet high in the clear. 2 rooms. Ceiled, plastered & painted white pine floor narrow. Washboard. Back room larger? 3 windows, 12 light: 10 by 14 inches hung and blinds as front. Door from small entry 1 1⁄2 inches thick. Knob lock. 4 wardrobe closets large doors, wooden mantle. Bath room small, one window and door as before. Bath tub hot and cold water pipes. One window in entry as others. Hatchway through ceiling to garret above.
Roof double pitch. Peak 6 feet high. Rafters and slate as front. Tin gutters to roofs and tin conductors down front and back. Partitions are lathed and plastered. Studding – Doors are all paneled. Walls are all of brick. Well-burned, 9 inches thick.
An old house adjoins this on South West side.