This pergola was built by a carpenter named Doug Abernathy in the late 50's early 60's and by the looks of some of the detailing, his father helped with some of the joinery. I've broken this into 2 posts so that you can get a close look at both structures.
I drove by this place quite a bit, and even stopped in and met Doug while he was having a garage sale about a decade ago. He was a gregarious man, and when I was admiring his handy-work he started telling me about his father, his grandfather and his great grandfather that were all home builders. He was most proud that he still had the gingerbread templates his dad had created, and he knew how it could be done today. He tried to convince me it was a craft that I should carry on--alas, I had another path in mind.
Driving by this house (and the picket fence that disappeared about 8 years ago), noticing the second structure (that I will look at in the next post), I had gained some serious respect for his proportions and how the look just worked together. It was unique detailing I hadn't seen anywhere else, so I was sure that he was a designer, not a copycat.
Above, you will notice a curved brace which makes the structure stable and it is about 3" wide. I couldn't tell whether it was a cut curve, or a lamination, but for it's age, it has stood up well. There are subtle cracks, but that could just be expansion and contraction. It might be a glued up lamination with the end cuts sealed with pine tar, (which was evident on the other structure).
Here is a serious testament to ability. A gate that still works after 50 years. It is braced, it is built stronger than it needed to be, and the joinery has remained tight because he sealed it somehow as it was built. The trelliswork has held together and lasted because it was lapped over--not notched into itself.
This garden structure was made long before anyone in North America used the word "Pergola". For this reason, I would nominate Doug Abernathy as one of the people that brought Pergolas into the modern age. If I had had a closer look at his structures early on, I wouldn't have had nearly as much to learn about them in my first 25 years in the business.
by Lawrence Winterburn