Mysteries of the Rockingham Meeting House architecture revealed

ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – Architectural historian Jane Radocchia will present “By Straight Edge and Compass – Architectural Geometry of the Rockingham Meeting House” Saturday, May 22, from 3-4 p.m. This is the third in a series of talks sponsored by the Rockingham Historic Preservation Commission in partnership with the Rockingham Free Public Library. The free lecture will be via Zoom.

Architecture of the Rockingham Meeting House. Photo provided
Architecture of the Rockingham Meeting House. Photo provided

On Saturday, June 9, 1787 under the direction of John Fuller, citizens of Rockingham came together to raise the frame of their hilltop acropolis. How was the frame laid out? Country builders such as Fuller knew well the elements of practical geometry. With a compass, straightedge, and scribe, Fuller set out the modules, parts, timber dimensions, and planned and marked the joinery.

This way of designing was known by the Egyptians and Greeks, mentioned in the Bible, discussed by the Roman architect Vitruvius, and understood by Renaissance architects. Methods were passed on through oral traditions amongst master carpenters and joiners. Jane Radocchia will introduce this geometry and show how Fuller used it. She will also touch on Benjamin Asher and his 1797 book “The Country Builder,” the first architectural handbook published in America.

A working architect focusing on conservation and restoration of early American houses and barns, Jane Radocchia is a graduate of Oberlin College and the MIT School of Architecture. Bennington-based, she is an award-winning “old house” architect who has worked on more than 1,200 projects in the Northeast over the past 40 years. She lectures and convenes workshops widely on the history and technologies of old house designs, most recently at the Bennington Museum and at the Preservation Trades Network Conference in Sterling, Scotland.

To receive an invitation to this Zoom program, email or call the library at 802-463-4270. Leave your phone number and email address. For those who do not have a computer, there is an alternative method of joining Zoom through a phone call.

The series is made possible through funding from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service.

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