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Strange feature in 1817 house exterior walls

My wife and I bought an old... really old... house and have begun totally gutting/updating everything. After ripping out all of the old lath and plaster, we found a feature in the outside walls I have never seen before. The house is balloon-framed with full dimensional lumber, which is familiar... but we found a second layer of tongue and groove siding material in the middle of every stud bay. A nailing strip was added to every stud, and a stack of boards spanned between them, beginning at the bottom and going all the way to the top of the wall. We assumed this was done to create a second air pocket within the wall to help insulate... but as I was removing some of this material I began wondering if it might have been added as resistance to racking, since sheet goods weren't available back then. The wall had lath and plaster on the inside, and a layer of 3/4" lap siding on the outside... and this in the middle.

Has anyone ever seen this before? Any ideas on what it was for? I tried posting pictures but the site kept telling me they weren't valid file types... even thought they are jpg. Thanks for any help.

Re: Strange feature in 1817 house exterior walls

For photos either post a link to a photo sharing site or link from the site to insert a photo on the forum page.
I agree with you the material might be for racking resistance although I have not heard of it being done that way. Personally I've never worked on a framed building that old. Before plywood and metal strapping, diagonal wood bracing was often let into the studs for racking resistance or diagonal sheathing was used. I would be hesitant to remove it before knowing more. Also since the walls are open its a good time to add fire blocking.
BTW- ballon framing was supposedly invented in 1832 in Chicago.

Re: Strange feature in 1817 house exterior walls

They did not have balloon framing in 1817.Re-evaluate. Maybe the foundation of the older structure was reused, or a smaller portion of the existing structure goes back that far.
It could have been for insulation or vermin control. The normal technique for rack-bracing was a let-in 1x4 (a long one) or mortised-in knee braces between the corner posts and the sills.
Otherwise, diagonal sheathing did the rack bracing.

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