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  1. #1
    Barry Grubb's Avatar
    Barry Grubb Guest

    Default Tabby foundation?

    I inspected a house the other day that was built in 1910. It had a full basement with approx eight foot foundation walls. The foundation was a form poured type construction using what looked like sand, lyme (maybe a cheap portland) and river rock. Overall it was in decent shape, supporting the large three story structure, however in several places where the outer plaster had come off, there was a fair amount of spalling. I suggested the missing plaster be repaired, preferably by someone who specializes in historic foundations, to stop the deterioration. I did a little research and found that this was a common construction practice in the south east in the 'old days' called tabby. Am I correct? Anybody got any good tips on this?

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  2. #2
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: Tabby foundation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Grubb View Post
    I inspected a house the other day that was built in 1910. It had a full basement with approx eight foot foundation walls. The foundation was a form poured type construction using what looked like sand, lyme (maybe a cheap portland) and river rock. Overall it was in decent shape, supporting the large three story structure, however in several places where the outer plaster had come off, there was a fair amount of spalling. I suggested the missing plaster be repaired, preferably by someone who specializes in historic foundations, to stop the deterioration. I did a little research and found that this was a common construction practice in the south east in the 'old days' called tabby. Am I correct? Anybody got any good tips on this?
    Barry:

    The Care and Preservation of Historic Tabby

    Aaron


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Corpus Christi, TX
    Posts
    613

    Default Re: Tabby foundation?

    Hey Barry,
    What you have is a common stone and mortar foundation. I think you are a bit far inland to find a Tabby. I am not aware of any that were built north of Pennsylvania or South of Ga.; and nothing west of any mountain range. One reason they were built was that stone was too expensive to haul to the coastal areas. I'm sure the Florida guys will correct me if they have encountered them. As oyster shells and local sand were key to Tabbi's, I don't think you'll find them where you are.

    After the invention of Portland, there have been several revivals of Tabby, but I believe that no true Tabbi's were built after about WW1. I restored one in a row house in Baltimore built about 1895. A year later, the entire row shifted. Turns out that the builder had built the whole row atop a oyster shell dump site. The City came in and shared the costs with the owners to shore up about four square blocks of row houses, all sitting on oyster shell fill. When I owned it, the value was in the $35K range. I went back to visit a couple of years ago and they were all in the $350K-$400K range. They are 11'6" wide and about 45' deep; two and three stories. Furniture was brought in by removing the front windows and using a pulley system. All the furniture I had was what was called 3/4. I still have two of the chairs. Of course that was before I was 1 1/2 sized.

    Most of us built decks on the tar and gravel roofs where we watched the fire works at Ft. McHenry every 4th of July.

    Here's a link to a short article I found from the Henry Ford historical trust.
    The Care and Preservation of Historic Tabby

    I do envy you for where you live and the variety of architecture. Some of those stone foundations are spectacular. Many of the damaged ones I saw dated to the early 19th century and the damage had been caused by landscape "improvements" to one of the most naturally beautiful areas on earth. They are worth repairing!



    The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.
    - Paul Fix

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Near Philly, Pa.
    Posts
    1,633

    Cool Re: Tabby foundation?

    While you may have tabby indeed, I thought I would toss this out just in case anyone runs across it. Rammed earth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    My old church and the buildings across the road represent the largest complex of pise' d terre in the US. It was developed by the Romans and as long as you keep the water out, it holds up great.

    Enjoy!
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

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