History.org: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Official History and Citizenship Website


February 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Palmer House


This Throwback Thursday, we take a look at the Palmer House on Duke Of Gloucester Street in the Historic Area. Earliest records for the Palmer House lot begin in 1718.  When the building was restored in 1952, a large addition that had been constructed in 1857 was destroyed so that the house could be returned to its original 1700s character.

Today, many people know the structure for its unique holiday decorations: Apples are placed in the “putlog holes” — recessed spaces in the home’s facade.

Read more:

Palmer House during the Battle of Williamsburg

A new deal for old places

Research paper: Palmer House paint

Historic area buildings

Watch Williamsburg Before and After


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  1. What and why are there putlog holes in the façade? Do they have a specific purpose?

    • The putlog holes were used to create placement for scaffolding to assist in building the next rise of the structure. They would normally fill those holes with mortar so the mortar could be easily removed if needed for constructing scaffolding to repair the brick walls. When research revealed that the holes in this house were not filled in for decades after it was built, they restored it to that appearance.