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Blog Cabin 2011: Homebuilding in Mathews County

Homebuilding in Mathews County, the location of Blog Cabin 2011, tells a story of shipbuilding, shipwrights-turned-homebuilders, locally sourced materials and changes in construction methods precipitated by the Industrial Revolution.

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Plentiful Resource: Live Oak

During a period that extended from the American Revolution through the onset of the Civil War, shipbuilding served as Mathews County’s leading industry. "Live oak was an important boat building wood that grew in this area,” says Mathews Maritime Museum docent Dennis Crawford. “It is very durable wood and grows in shapes needed for boat building.” In Mathews, the species was harvested to near extinction for both boat and homebuilding. Dr. Michael Swiderski, a Mathews boat builder and owner of Storybook Woodworks, indicates that the remains of barns and ships (mainly red oak timbers) were also used in home construction.

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