Rundlet-May House

Building as a Trade: Materials and Costs

Rundlet-May House is perhaps one of the best documented houses in terms of knowing how the laborers worked, what materials they used and how much the materials cost; right down to the cost of nails. All of this combined gives a lot of evidence of how houses were built. Using what local materials were available for the build was to be expected, and over half of the lumber was sourced by James and Nathaniel Jewett, Mark Wheeler, and Mark Walker, but there were forty other purveyors named as well. Masts and poles, boards and planks, shingles and clapboards were all accounted for in Rundlet’s ledger. Masonry expenses included bricks, rocks and paving stones, lime, sand and gravel, and “hair,” presumably for horsehair. Miscellaneous but necessary costs included transportation and use of animals for labor; the cost of “Horse, oxen, trucks, Gundalo” was recorded at $306.78. Another necessary expenditure was deemed to be the procurement of rum, listed under labor costs, at $186.75.