Some thoughts from the Traditional Building Conference:
-Existing buildings are inherently green (embodied energy) tearing down to make a new green building uses more energy than it saves
-Changes made to “modernize” a building have contributed to the perception of the poor energy performance
-An important part of green building should be the materials should both be durable and repairable – many of the new green building products are durable but are they repairable?
-The greenest building is one that already exists – the restoration process involves less carbon emissions than new construction
-Thinking globally while acting locally also helps create local jobs and builds a sustainable local economy

Last weekend Chuck, Lois, Jonathan, and Danielle traveled to Boston for the Traditional Building Show. The Traditional Building Exhibition and Conference is sponsored by Restore Media and features a trade show with traditional building products and seminars featuring traditional building topics (both theory and practical). The focus of most of this spring’s seminars where the green building movement within preservation – more posts about that later.
Chuck and Danielle presented ‘Traditional Building Methods vs. Modern Approaches’ on Saturday, March 14th. We have many seminars we have developed for various preservation groups – soon we will have a listing with description posted on our web site.
These pictures (above) where taken at the Boston Commons on our only adventure outside of the convention center (who ever designed the convention center, which is a combination of a mall, offices, restaurants, hotels, and the actual convention space, knew how to keep people entertained within the confines of the area). We did not realize celebrating for St. Patrick’s Day was beginning over the the weekend – we had a hard time finding a restaurant with room. We did walk the Freedom Trail to Paul Revere’s house and found a little Italian restaurant to eat in.
Once we have time to digest the various seminars we attended we will post summaries on our blog to share the knowledge we have acquired.

Greetings 2009

This new year is already picking up the pace from the relaxing holiday season. Next Friday, January 16, 2009 is the opening day for the Greater Philadelphia Historic Home Show. Chuck began constructing frames for mirrors to show and sell last month. The hardwoods that were selected for the mirror project are, Cherry, Maple and Flame Birch. The frames are mortise and tenon, a form of joinery dating back to 2400 BC. Jonathan will add the color to finish the fine furniture pieces. The mirrors are our signature item, kind of a large calling card. A hand crafted, easy to carry away from the show piece that people can hang on their wall – reflecting beauty – and be reminded of the kind of service we provide for our friends/clients. The Historic Home Show will provide for us an opportunity to “predict” how the world is affecting those of us who treasure our vintage homes and the built heritage we share as a nation. Preservation is Green. I am optimistic!

Rainy Days…

What to do when a wet Nor’Eastener settles over Staten Island on a work day? Take the ferry to the Big Apple! Lois and Chuck went on an adventure in Manhattan last Friday. We arrived at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal at noon and mingled with the local fokes waiting to board the ferry to the City. Hearing serveral different languages spoken by excited young adults making their way around the deck. As we all braved the wind and the rain to watch the tug boats, tankers, and ships glide along the Hudson River. Lady Liberty appeared out of the fog to greet us, a beacon of hope and welcome for the past 100 plus years. The ride was actually fast, about 15 minutes. Landing in the Battery Section of lower Manhattan.. Of course Chuck and I walked around, looking up, pointing out the architectual details on the buildings to each other, like a couple of tourist. We even walked to Wall Street, there were a lot of people in the bars….

Catching the ferry to return to Staten Island at the end of the day was another eye opening event. Dare I say thousands of people gathered and boarded the ferry. This system of transporttion works and its free. Historic Restorations will have a field trip to the city again, we will make sure that the kids experince this too.

Labor Day Weekend

We spent Labor Day Weekend at the Oregon Coast at the Groshong family reunion. The picture shows Chuck with his siblings in descending order. Almost the entire family gathered to reconnect and reminisce about times spent at the beach. With walks on the beach, rowing in the lake, and a bonfire with singing a good time was had by all.

Nine Mile Canyon

The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Forum Journal for the Summer 2008 highlights how the federal government’s energy policy is threatening cave drawings (5000 BC) in the Nine Mile Canyon in Utah. Since the Energy Policy Act of 2005 opened up federal lands for energy development 120 natural gas wells have been drilled above the Nine Mile Canyon with 50 more planned. This has caused multiple problems with dust covering the drawings from the many vehicles traveling the dirt roads to the natural gas wells. In addition the additional traffic is endangering the thousands of artifacts (from stone beads to pottery pieces to stone tools). In 2004 (before the Energy Policy Act of 2005) the National Trust named Nine Mile Canyon to the list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

We all want to work for energy independence deciding which route to take is the largest dilemma in solving this problem. A question we need to ask ourselves is the amount of natural gas being collected from these wells worth the potential damage to the irreplaceable cave drawings?

More information about the Nine Mile Canyon can be found on the National Trust website at:


Yesterday, Sunday, August 3rd, Jonathan and Danielle took Chuck and Lois to Winterthur (Wintertour is the pronunciation given to us on the tram tour)for their 35th wedding Anniversary. Winterthur is located in Delaware and is the vision of Henry Francis DuPont (he expanded the existing house on the property into a museum and then opened it up to the public). In addition to the house dedicated to preserving America’s history through a collection of decorative arts including furniture from many different time periods up until 1860, china, pottery, silverware, and the period rooms many of which have been taken out of buildings that were being demolished serving as a backdrop to the antiques) there are hundreds of acres of gardens to walk and enjoy.

The most impressive feature we saw (we only took two tours of the house and want to go back and see the rest of the house) was the Montmorenci staircase (three floors of spiral stairs unsupported) built from the design of a southern staircase purchased by DuPont. The staircase is supported internally by concrete and metal but to stand at the bottom and look up three floors to a complete 360 degree turn is worth the trip to Delaware if that was the only thing you would see. But that is not the only thing to see there are nine floors and over a hundred rooms full of antiques and a record of America’s history through the very items that were used everyday by our forefathers.

No, this post is not going to feature more pictures of the “girls” our office dogs. We are at the end of a heat wave in Pennsylvania and I am feeling like a trip to the pool is in order.

We received our contract for The Greater Philadelphia Historic Home Show in January in the mail this week – that has us thinking about our plans for next year and what we can do. We are also working on our class schedule for 2009 – please let us know if there are any topics you are interested in that we did not offer this year.

On Sunday morning after breakfast we walked down to Building Character ( in the 300 block of North Queen Street in Lancaster. They were having their Sunday Market (organic food vendors, local produce,with live music and architectural details for sale). I bought a picture of one of the Star Barn’s (locally famous on Route 283 outside of Harrisburg – soon to be moved to Lebanon) outbuildings (which I consider more architecturally interesting than the main barn). The outbuilding was built in the Gothic Revival tradition and features an interesting cupola. Anyway I digress -Building Character is not the typical architectural salvage store – they attach history of the pieces if they know it and they are blending architecture with art. In the same way we try to do with our work. If you have an opportunity, I recommend visiting Building Character for a unique shopping experience (if you have a chance to visit on Sunday you can also grab lunch).

Odds and Ends

The production crew spent the last week in Staten Island, New York repairing/rebuilding a cornice on the Curtis house. We have been working on this project since April the original scope of work was repairing the original porch and making traditional (single pane, true divided light) windows for the first floor. The scope of work has grown to the restoration of the entire front facade – removing aluminum siding, repairing rot and portions that the siding installers cut the architectural details away.

Back at the office our June newsletter was mailed (a day late) and we are investigating the e-newsletter options on Constant Contact. If you would like to be added to our e-mail list please e-mail [email protected].

In our June newsletter we introduced the Speedheater Paint Removal System – if you are interested in a demonstration or rental please call us we would be happy to accommodate any requests. The office number is 717-291-4688.

Father’s Day Weekend we had a wood window repair class. We enjoyed our time teaching and getting to know the participants – look for pictures and video of this class to be added to our website soon. One thing that we have heard from almost all of our participants is that they thought there was some mystical secret to restoration. We spent sometime during the class discussing that the majority of restoration work can be taught within a relatively short amount of time – these usually are the repetitive labor intensive projects – and if the building owner is willing to contribute some “sweat equity” the cost of restoration can be greatly reduced. Of course there is a percentage of the work in which skill and expertise are required – which is the work we enjoy doing (the detail orientated – finish work).

Have a happy Fourth of July – enjoy sometime with your family cooking out and watching fireworks!


Today is the first day of summer and also bring your dogs to work day. So we decided to bring our dogs to the office and take pictures of them while they “work”. Delilah (Jack Russell), Analiese (White German Shepherd), Bernadette (Am Staff), and Angelica (Pug) have made our day a little more exciting.
On a more serious note, we had a successful hands-on plaster class last weekend (June 14th and 15th). We have posted pictures and video from this class on the class portion of our website. Chuck and Jonathan spent both days teaching how to plaster an entire wall from scratch using lathe and a traditional three-coat plaster method, how to patch holes, and how to repair cracks. Despite the warm weather everyone left feeling confident in their ability to tackle the plaster projects in their own homes – which was our goal.