Construction Methods used by by M. G. Crouch Lumber
Over the years M. G. Crouch Lumber Company developed a reputation for quality homes in the local area. So much so that even after the company stopped building homes in 1983, local real estate listings continue to list homes as Crouch-built.
Here are some notes on the construction methods and techniques used by M. G. Crouch Lumber.
One of the hallmarks of a quality home is the use of molding; wood trim to cover the abrupt junction between major surfaces such as floor-to-wall in a room and wall to roof on the exterior. Crouch Lumber used molding extensively in its homes and produced much of it using local lumber and their own machines.
While some patterns were used frequently, especially in certain architectural styles, architects often specified a different pattern. Custom knives had to be cut to make these special designs, and all the knives were kept so that new molding could be made in the future for repairs, renovations and additions. Until the company closed, local contractors and homeowners frequently came to Crouch Lumber looking for an older molding pattern.
While some simple molding was cut from a single piece of lumber, more elaborate patterns, especially for cove molding, were made by using multiple smaller pieces to achieve a larger cross section.
Molding can range from plain to decorative with common uses including:
Cabinets and Shelves
Cabinets and shelves for storage and display are important to the finished look of a home, and Crouch Lumber produces a wide variety of these for both new homes and remodeling jobs. While cabinets are essentially wooden boxes set on the floor or hung on walls, they are complicated constructions.
First they must be fitted into exact spaces often to contain or sit by kitchen appliances which cannot be moved. The design and layout becomes important to provide an easy workspace, as the cabinets cannot easily be moved or altered. Finally they have a decorative function through the frames and faces which are visible in the room.
In addition to quality cabinets and shelving, M. G. Crouch Lumber became known locally for the well-designed kitchens by Bobbie Landis. She would custom design each one for the space provided and to accommodate the lifestyle of the owners. Craftsmen in the shop would then build these cabinets for installation. Many kitchen renovations were done for homes built by other companies when the owners wanted to remodel and refresh.
Over the years the craftsmen at Crouch Lumber learned how to build intricate details and features in a home. Frequently other builders in the area would stop by to learn how to construct a particular detail.
Specifications have always been an important part of home construction for Crouch Lumber. A very early contract prepared by M. G. Crouch in 1915 for a house for P. A. Atwood, although written on only a single sheet of paper, includes requirements such as:
- studing [sic] 18 on center
- 5/8 ceiling sub floor, 7/8 finish flooring
- all meteril [sic] on this job shall be good #2
- good workman ship [sic] on job
A handwritten contract with Mr. and Mrs. A. Alexander in 1927 is less detailed in terms of materials, a “frame building storm sheathed and 1/2″ siding,” but does describe fittings and finishes:
- wired and plumbed with 5 piece standard fixtures
- one tank stool lavatory, tub and sink
- one room to have hardwood floors – painted two coats
Later contracts became more detailed in the specifications. In a 1939 contract for a new home for David and Susan McComb, specifications run for over 6 typewritten pages and include times such as:
- First & Second Floor Joists 2 x 10 16″ O.C. [ 16-inch on center]
- Place a subfloor over joists of both floors, using #2 common flooring or surfaced boards, placed diagonal to timbers, with all head joints made over and parallel to floor joists and throughly face nailed.
- Bath accessories including paper holders, towel bars, tumbler and tooth brush holder, grab bars, etc. shall be installed by the Contractor.
- Flooring for all rooms, except kitchen and baths, and halls to be 13/16″ x 2 and 1/4″ face #1 common oak flooring, end matched. All oak fllors shall be well surfaced and nicely sanded before filler is placed on them.
By the 1950s contracts had changed, and specifications were no longer included. Rather they were referenced as separate documents such as “Contractor is to erect new residence for … as per plans as gotten up by (architect) and specifications as gotten up by Bobbie Landis…” In this case specifications were detailed by Crouch Lumber while in other cases they were detailed by the architect.
Architects were now frequently using standard contract forms, often prepared by the A.I.A., the American Institute of Architects. These standard forms addressed issues such as time of completion and contract sum, and referenced a list of documents including specifications and drawings. For example a contract with L. P. Frans in 1955, prepared by local architect D. Carroll Abee included specifications with 14 sections and eight drawings.