We recently completed a restoration project of some truly massive doors at the Wilmington Public Library in Delaware.

The library was built in 1922 with the bold shapes and lavish ornaments of the Art Deco style of architecture popular at that time.

We restored a pair 22’6’ tall, 10-panel White Oak and Mahogany pocket doors.  The doors were 4” thick, 4’6” wide each, and badly distressed from years of use and lack of maintenance.  The biggest challenge on this project was getting these giants off.  Obviously this was not your ordinary door removal.

To see just how tricky the removal process was, watch a video of the removal at: http://bit.ly/1riG1tL

Once we hauled the mammoth doors back to the shop, we set to work restoring them with five guys at workstations around the doors.

 

 

When will you be able to upload them?

We ended our summer here at Historic Restorations with a bang…our Preservation Circus in late August.We really enjoyed hosting it and all our guests raved about how much they enjoyed being there for it, so we’re calling it a huge hit. Penelope’s “reviewing” it from her perspective in her column this month (and we hear she took lots of pictures).

Event box

Penelope was a hit herself at the Circus,and she’s lucky she was because she pulled a naughty prank and showed up in a clown costume even though clowns had specially been banned. (We are a bit worried that all the fan mail she is receiving is going to her head, but it does help keep her motivated to keep her deadlines. We just hope it doesn’t turn her into too much of a diva.)

Penelope is quite inquisitive and very observant (especially when there are treats involved-she has mastered sitting very still if she THINKS a treat might be involved). When ever we are ready to give her a lesson in historic preservation, we just pull out the treat bag and we have he complete and utter attention. Atleast for as long as we have that bag in our laps…

This month we are highlighting the recent testing our windows underwent to see whether or not they met the LEED standards that a project we’re currently working on required we meet.

It was an interesting experience and one I’m not likely to forget anytime soon. I mean,when you experience testing that involves machines that open and close doors, giant wrecking balls, and a huge propeller system -it kind of makes an impact on you. (Even though none of our windows were lucky enough to experience those particular tests.)

Our windows were tested for air infiltration, structural integrity, and water infiltration .And despite the fact that I was sick and trying my hardest NOT to contaminate the world, I am glad I went to see the actual testing as it was done.(I think some of our guys wanted to go and were a bit jealous of me -well, not of the being sick part- because they wanted to see the wrecking ball in action.)

The results shocked us and weren’t at all what we expected. So keep watch for them in upcoming posts!

While you’re waiting, grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte, a piece of pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread, or whatever pumpkin flavored food it is you enjoy this time of year and celebrate the arrival of fall with me!

As always,if you have any questions or need anything just let me know.

Danielle

[email protected]

717.291.4688

 

PS: DONT MISS OUR NEXT BIG HAPPENING!

Join us (virtually) on October 22nd at 7 pm EDT for

tips on planning your project from the comfort of home!

(see our events column for more details)

 

 

 

I’m still so excited from our Preservation Circus that I can hardly sit still.  There were so many people and Mommy tells me I was the star of the show! It was so much fun… there were tons of people, good music that kept my tail 10616609_10152361315651915_5036206237762911218_nwagging, kids running around, and these cute popcorn cupcakes my Mommy wouldn’t let me eat.

Grandpa made his amazing BBQ (don’t tell Daddy but I had some too), which everybody loved. Although my Aunt Layla sneaked too many hot dogs and ended up with an upset stomach. I heard Grandma say we collected 50lbs of food for the food bank!!!

Mommy gave lots of tours of the shop and Daddy answered lots of questions about historic preservation (I helped when he got stuck).  And the kids ate lots of popcorn.

I was going to post all the pictures here, but after uploading them to our Facebook page I’m pooped!  So I’m going to just send you over there to look at them so I can take a nap.

I think it was such a huge success that I’m going to have to start planning another party already!  (Maybe I’ll do a pirate theme next… arrggghh!!!)

Articles on Preservation of Historic Buildings and Architectures

 

Tourist Cabins: Wallinda Cabins

Perched on US Route 2, just west of Marshfield Village are the Wallinda Cabins. For years I’ve seen this sitting quietly on the side of the road, presumably unoccupied but having a neat and tidy appearance. Just last week on my way through Vermont, I decided that I would finally stop and photograph these before they disappeared……Continue reading

A Train Station and a Fire Station

The fire station in Wallingford, Vermont is located in a the former train station, which is still located adjacent to the tracks. It’s quite the unique adaptive reuse. Take a look (those photographs were night shots, hence the blurry quality).

This isn’t the first time I’ve come across a non-traditional building turned fire station. Remember the Cavendish Queen Anne house that became a fire station with truck bays on the first floor……Continue reading

Boston’s Waterworks Museum

What are three preservationists to do on a sweltering hot summer afternoon in Boston, MA? Even we have our limits for strolling the row house lined streets. When we could bear the heat no longer, we headed out to Chestnut Hill, just past Brookline to the (relatively) new Waterworks Museum, located at the original Chestnut Hill Reservoir and pumping station……Continue reading

Preservation Solution? Reversible Exterior Window Shades?

What do you do in the dog days of summer? Hide from the sun, of course. Remember the end of the school year during review and finals when classrooms would be sweltering? Large pull down shades could help control the temperature and industrial size fans, but it was still hot. Quite often when historic school buildings are renovated for modern use……Continue reading

Wine Tasting to Support Norwich Schoolhouses

In Vermont and across the country we all see too many schoolhouses abandoned or neglected. Sometimes these buildings will have better fates: converted to residences, used as community centers, or as a museum. And some have even better fates, like the Root Schoolhouse and the Beaver Meadow Schoolhouse, both of Norwich, VT…..Continue reading

PA Architecture Traditional 1700 – 1870

This article is a part of a series from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s excellent field guide on the architectural styles found in Pennsylvania.  In it, they’ve assigned key periods of development – from the Colonial period in the 18th Century to the Modern Movements of the 29th Century.  This article focuses on an overview of the Traditional/Vernacular style in Pennsylvania from 1638 through 1950

Identifiable Features

1.  Steeply pitched gable roofs
2.  Stone, brick, log or frame construction
3.  Double  doors, four over four front facade
4.  Dual gable end chimneys
5.  Usually two and a half stories
6.  Summer kitchen located just behind main house

PA Architecture Traditional buildings reflect the strong cultural ties of the state’s early settlers form the German (Deutsch) speaking areas of central Europe.  These Deutsch speakers, came to be described as the “Pennsylvania Dutch” —a rather misleading name based on the mispronunciation of “Deutsch” as “Dutch.”  This Germanic influence is most apparent in the southeast section of the state where German settlement began in the early 1700s.  While the German settlement later extended throughout the state, this southeastern area retains the earliest and the highest concentration of the early Pennsylvania German Traditional buildings.

Traditional_Vernacular - 2013-09-18_17.46.03

Buildings in this category take several easily recognized forms.  The earliest PA German Traditional buildings were of log or stone construction and of distinctly medieval form with steep roofs, thick walls and small, irregularly spaced windows.  These small early houses had floor plans which  followed traditional layouts—some very simple one-room buildings, but more frequently a 2 or 3 room layout with a central chimney and corner “winder stair” leading up to a loft or second floor.  The 3 room format called for a large kitchen or  “kuche” on one side of the center chimney and two smaller rooms including a  parlor or “stube,” and a bedroom or “kammer”  on the other.  This three room Germanic folk house is sometimes  referred to as a “Continental Plan” by architectural historians. The two room format known as  the “Hall and Parlor Plan” had only a kitchen (hall)  and a parlor with a central chimney wall in between.

In the vernacular tradition some early stone houses were built over a spring to provide running water and a cool area for food storage in the basement.   Some houses were also built into a bank or hillside, partially underground for similar cold storage reasons, as well as cost and material efficiency.  This bank style of construction is attributed to medieval Swiss tradition, so buildings opf this type are  sometimes called “Swiss style.”  Many banked houses were later expanded to become 2 or 3 stories with the ground floor  then used only as a kitchen or for  storage.Some early houses on the expanding frontier of Pennsylvania were constructed as fortified houses with extra thick walls  and small windows to withstand Indian attack.  Fort Zeller built in 1745 near Newmanstown, Lebanon County was not actually a fort but such a fortified  (thick walled) house built in this manner.

Another traditional early house form was the combination house and barn where both shared a common roof.  Few examples remain, since it was a more of a short term pioneering practice than a desired housing type.  Certainly, for early settlers faced with the need to provide prompt shelter for both the family and livestock such a solution would have been expedient.  As family fortunes improved, additional buildings were constructed to separate the farm animals from the family.

The buildings of the Ephrata Cloister in Lancaster County are unique surviving examples of medieval German building practices. The Cloister was begun in 1732 as a religious community for mystical German Pietists led by Conral Beissel and drawn to Pennsylvania for its religious tolerance.  Ephrata Cloister has one of the best preserved collections of 18th century German vernacular domestic and religous buildings.  At its peak in 1750 the Cloister complex included a chapel, mens and womens dormitories, a variety of mills, a bake house, a pottery, cabins, barns and stables. The  celibate community declined after the Revolution and became part of the 7th Day German Baptist Church in 1814.  Much of the complex remaineds today and is operated as a historic site by the PHMC.  Significant buildings include the 1740 chapel called the Saal, a half-timbered, 5-story, clapboard building with shake shingles and small attached stone kitchen and the 1742 sisters house known as the Saron, a steep-roofed, 4-story, log house covered with clapboards containing floors of narrow sleeping cells.  The small, unevenly placed, casement windows, steep gable roofs, shed dormers, plain white plastered interior, winding stairs,  and center chimneys are all indicative of medieval German building traditions.

Some 18th and early 19th German Traditional houses incorporated the customary German floor plan into a more formally designed exterior, adopting some of the elements of the contermporary Georgian style.  These German influenced houses usually had four bays, rather than the usual five of the Georgian style and lacked the Georgian  center hall as well.  The Cooke House in York County  and the Christian Stauffer House of Lancaster County are good  examples of this blend of Germanic form with Georgian proportions.  One of the most interesting and intriguing types of PA German Traditional houses is the Four over Four or  Pennsylvania German Two Door Farmhouse.  These houses are easily identified by their two front doors, placed side by side in the center of the house with a window flanking each and four windows on the second floor.  Houses of this type usually date from the mid-1800s and are often built of brick or frame. The Green House in York County is a good example of this form. One front door opens directly into the family sitting room, and the other into the more formal parlor.  This housing form does not exist in central Europe, and is prevalent only in Pennsylvania and its borders, so it appears to be a style developed here.  Much debate of the significance of the double front doors has produced some general consensus that it represents the adaptation of traditional German form to the formal symmetry of the popular Georgian and Federal styles.  For some architectural historians the twin front doors represent the development of a more utilitarian floorplan with the elimination of the Georgian/Federal style central hall, while presenting a more formal and symmetrical exterior appearance than the earlier medieval German buildings.  These distinctive houses can be seen especially in the southeastern and south central portion of the state, often with a detached one room “summer kitchen” just off the rear elevation.  The summer kitchen kept the heat from cooking or washing clothes from the main house during hot weather.

 

Never ones to do things in a ho-hum way, we’re throwing a Preservation Circus for our client appreciation day on Friday, August 22nd from 4pm to 7pm.

postcard-4inx6in-h-front

Whether you are a client, thinking about becoming a client, are just curious about what it’s like to be a Historic Restorations client, are into historic preservation, or just want to come for the free fun – come out and enjoy:

 

  • Meeting Penelope the Preservation Puppy
  • Live Bluegrass Music (one of America’s historical music forms)
  • Free food and drinks
  • Colonial themed activities for the kids
  • Touring our shop and office
  • Asking your old house questions

 

Bring a non-perishable food item for a chance to win door prizes! We’ll be collecting non-perishable food items for to help the Council of Churches restock their dwindling food bank supplies. The Council of Churches works together to provide three “no obligation” meals a day at locations throughout Lancaster City and this is the time of year they struggle to keep their pantries stocked with the amount of food they need to do so. Their important work literally feeds hundreds of people each day, with no strings attached, and we are happy to support their efforts.

Please RSVP by calling Moira at 717.291.4688 or visit www.historic-restorations.com/circus.

 

astleyDid you know?

The father of the modern circus was Philip Astley.  In the mid-1700’s he performed “feats of horsemanship” in a circular arena he called a “ring”.  Not only did the circular shape help the audience to see him at all times, it also generated the centrifugal force Astley needed to keep his balance while standing on the back of his galloping horses.

In 1770 he decided he needed more novelty in his performances and added acrobats, rope-dancers, jugglers, and a clown.  And so the modern circus was born.

 

 

 

Articles on Preservation of Historic Buildings and Architectures

 

Abandoned Vermont: Enosburg Falls Factory

The former Dr. B. J. Kendall Company factory sits boarded up and neglected on Vermont Route 105 in Enosburg Falls, Vermont. Enosburg Falls was put on the map when Dr. B. J. Kendall began manufacturing Kendall’s Spavin Cure in 1879. Spavin is a disease that occurs in livestock – a type of osteoarthritis that causes lameness.  Dr. Kendall’s business……Continue reading

Coffee in Enosburg Falls, VT

Who needs a cup of coffee? That’s rhetorical. Aside from needing coffee, I love a good strong cup of coffee in the morning, or most anytime of day. And I love local businesses that serve good, local coffee brewed just right. Those are the businesses that care about their customers. One of my favorite places to get a cup of coffee in……Continue reading

Preservation ABCs: V is for Viewshed

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go……Continue reading

Fort Popham, Maine

Fort Popham in Phippsburg, Maine is a coastal defense battery on the Kennebuc River in Phippsburg, Maine. Construction on this semi-circular granite block fort began in 1861 (for the Civil War) and stopped in 1869, never to be completed. The fort was garrisoned again during the Spanish-American War and World War I, though eventually became obsolete with the construction of nearby Fort Baldwin……Continue reading

Shelburne Museum Concerts on the Green

As mentioned yesterday, summer is not over. It sticks around for a good three weeks in September. So let’s keep talking summer. What has been your favorite part of summer? The longer daylight hours, barbecues, farmers markets, outdoor concerts, swimming, sunshine, not wearing 10s of layers of clothing, cold drinks, better moods……Continue reading

Godey's Lady's BookGodey’s Lady’s Book was a United States magazine published in Philadelphia from 1830-1878.  At the height of its popularity in the 1860’s, Godey’s referred to itself as the “Queen of Monthlies”.

Marketed specifically to women, each issue contained poetry, articles, recipes, sheet music for the piano, dress patterns, illustrated fashion styles, and other engravings.  At $3 per year, a subscription to Godey’s was expensive.  Despite this, Godey’s was the most popular journal of its time.

The magazine is best known for the hand-tinted fashion plate that appeared at the start of each issue, which provide a record of the progression of women’s dress. Publisher Louis Godey boasted that in 1859, it cost $105,200 to produce the Lady’s Book, with the coloring of the fashion-plates costing $8,000.

Although it was a “Lady’s Book”, it was not a particularly feminist publication. There were special issues that included only work done by women, and beginning in 1852 a regular “Employment for Women” section made its debut – but in general, Godey disliked political or controversial topics in his magazine and stayed away from any potential conflict.

So much so that when the Civil War split the nation in half, Godey explicitly forbade the magazine from taking any position on the issue of slavery and so the issues of Godey’s Lady Book published in the runup to the Civil War and even during the Civil war make absolutely no acknowledgement of the Civil War at all.

In 1845 Godey’s Lady Book became the first copyrighted publication in America. Louis Godey was widely criticized for this move, with other editors accusing him of taking a “narrowly selfish course”.

We recently completed a historic wood window restoration project at the Mill at Anselma.  This mill is a gem of historic architecture in our country – the most complete example of a functioning historic grist mill in the entire country.

History of the Mill

The Mill at Anselma has truly historic origins. In the late 1600’s, the property was owned by Pennsylvania’s founder William Penn, though there was no mill on the property just yet. That would come in the mid 1700’s when influential Quaker Samuel Lightfoot decided to build a water-powered mill along the Pickering Creek after purchasing the 500-acre property in 1725. In the mid 1700’s, Chester County was becoming the “bread basket” of the
colonies and Lightfoot recognized the need for a local grist mill.

In 1767, Samuel divided his property between his two sons, with his younger son William receiving the acreage that included the grist mill. It was during William’s old age that the mill’s prosperity began to decline. It wasn’t until the early 1820’s that the mill would be revitalized when revolutionary technology that allowed for continuous production in grist mills was installed by the Shenemans. These labor-saving elevators and conveyors carried the grain between floors in the mill and were incorporated into the existing mill system – leaving the original Lightfoot technology untouched.

Just before the Civil War, the Oberholtzer family purchased and lived on the property and in 1862 poetess married into the family. The scenery around the mill is featured in her poems, including her famous “At the Old Mill” from her book of verse, “Violet Lee”. The mill remained largely untouched until 1906 when the wooden water wheel was replaced with a steel water wheel and the wooden sluiceway with iron pipe. Shortly after, the advent of portable grist mills made trips to the Anselma Mill no longer necessary and the mill’s prosperity quickly declined.

In 1919 Oliver Collins purchased the property and responded to the changes in market demand. Without touching the Colonial-era technology in the mill, Collins installed technology that allowed him to run a grist mill, saw mill, cider press, metal working shop, and even a barber shop and lawnmower repair shop – all of which were powered by the water wheel in the mill.

The Mill Today

In 1982 when Collins passed away, the Mill was purchased by the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, who performed a lengthy restoration of the mill from 1999 to 2004. When done, the historic millstones milled flour for the first time since 1934.

It is the most complete example of a custom grain mill in the U.S. and in 2005 The Mill at Anselma became the only custom grist mill in the U.S. to be designated a National Historic Landmark.

Our Historic Wood Window Replication Project at the Mill

During the restoration in the early 2000’s, the deteriorating window sashes had not been addressed and we were contracted to repair and replace the window sashes and sills.

Before we began work, the windows were a hodge-podge of different styles from different periods over the years. None of the sashes were original to the mill, so we replicated the profile from the oldest sash on the mill to give all the windows the same profile. We manufactured new sashes for the windows, replaced a few sills, and repaired quite a few stops and casings to restore the windows to full, working order.

In deciding which wood to use for the windows, we looked to the wood that was already on the mill. We determined that the window frames had originally been made of white oak and had been left unpainted, which was common for informal Colonial buildings. So we chose a quarter sawn white oak for the replacement sashes. In quarter sawn white oak all the graining runs vertically. This makes the wood a tighter wood that is stronger and more stable since the grain is all running in the same direction, is less prone to warping, and seasonal expansion and contraction, and offers extra moisture resistance. Quarter sawn white oak in general is a quality wood choice, but it was a particularly ideal wood choice to use in the moist, shady area of where the mill sat.

Though we don’t often leave wood unpainted, we did in this case in keeping with the original style of the windows. Despite the fact that originally there would have been no treatment applied to the wood, we did use a preservative that we made out of linseed oil and mineral spirits to help protect the wood and increase its longevity. The new growth wood we have available to us today simply does not last as long as old growth wood did when left untreated.

In addition to our work on the windows, we repaired the roof on their springhouse. During a winter storm a tree had fallen on the springhouse and damaged the roof. It was a traditional oak lathe roof with no sheathing and had bellied down in the center. When it was restored, the Trust chose to leave the belly in the roof as a sign of how it had always been instead of correcting it. (A choice that nags at Chuck’s perfectionist side, but one his preservationist side very much respects.)

The roof repair required special attention to detail. The angles had to be shimmed and straightened with shingles. “It took more time, but the job wouldn’t have turned out as nice without it. It was definitely worth it,” Chuck notes.

[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”left” cite=”” quotestyle=”style01″] “We’re very pleased. It was a real pleasure to work with you and show off your magnificent work. You are outstanding professionals and experts in your field.“ -Craig Hadley, Executive Director Mill at Anselma [/sws_blockquote_endquote]

 

Hi! I’m Penelope and I’m new around here, but my Mommy and Daddy know a lot about historic preservation and have been teaching me new things every day.Penelope Pic (1)

Yesterday they taught me not to chew on Karri’s office slippers (even if I really want to) and then they taught me something that really blew my mind…

Historic wood windows are one of the most “at risk” features of our historic homes.

Now, I’m still learning words, but “at risk” sounds pretty bad to me.  And apparently it’s all because the replacement window industry wants us to believe their plastic windows are better than wood windows.

But my Mommy and Daddy tell me it isn’t true.  They say wood windows not only look better in old houses, they don’t cause the moisture issues replacement windows do, AND they are more energy efficient.  They told me the guidelines for the best way to take care of America’s historic buildings say you should preserve and maintain your wood windows instead of replacing them.

And Mommy and Daddy don’t usually lie to me.

My Grandpa Chuck tells me that so many people didn’t know this and fell into the replacement window sales company’s clutches, that he’s been replacing a lot of replacement windows lately.  (I guess when people realize the plastic windows they put in weren’t the right choice they call him to make wood windows for them.  I wanna be just like him when I grow up.)

Now I have a secret to tell you, but you have to promise not to tell my Mommy and Daddy…  They gave me a report I was supposed to read so I could tell you more about this, but I was too pooped from spending the day at the office and I fell asleep before I finished it.

So I’m going just going to let you read this report for yourself:

“Put Replacement Windows to Shame: 10 Tools to Make Your Historic Wood Windows Last for Generations”

Window Report Image (Smaller File)Mainstream consumer trends would have you believe that you should replace your historic wood windows with vinyl, or other synthetic replacement windows.

Of course, you own a historic home – not a McMansion – making you anything but the typical consumer who follows mainstream trends.

Boy is this report for you, because in it we are going to give you the knowledge and tools you need to buck the system and put replacement windows (and their uneducated salesmen) to shame.

To get your copy of the report, call or email Moira at 717.291.4688 or [email protected]