Maintenance Plans for Historic Home & Buildings

Recently we completed a maintenance appraisal for the Trinity Church Oxford in Philadelphia.  The church purchased the appraisal to evaluate several key areas they knew needed immediate attention and ended up with not only our recommendations for remediating the emergent needs on their buildings – but a five-year plan for fixing other maintenance needs that were threats looming on the horizon.  Below is the process of how that maintenance appraisal and long-term plan were developed.

historic preservation contractors, historic restoration contractors, historic preservation, historic restorations, maintenance of historic buildings, historic home maintenance

The church purchased our Tier 2 Maintenance Appraisal and scheduled an appointment for us to perform the appraisal.

Chuck and Lois spent a morning evaluating three separate buildings on the church property – the Gathering Hall, the Church, and the Rectory/Archive building.

During that appointment,  Chuck and Lois recorded a detailed assessment and made thorough documentation of the current condition of the roofing, windows and doors, foundation, exterior walls and woodwork, interior features, projections, etc.

historic preservation contractors, historic restoration contractors, historic preservation, historic restorations, maintenance of historic buildings, historic home maintenance

Back at the office, Chuck reviewed all of the maintenance needs he and Lois had documented to compile an itemized list of specific repair work that needed to be done on the building to make sure it wasn’t deteriorating any further.

Next he prioritized which needs were immediate (needing repair in the next 1-2 years), which needs were intermediate (needing repair in the next 3-5 years), and which needs were long-term (needing repair in 5+ years) for each of the areas they evaluate.

The 18-page report was then submitted to the Trinity Church Oxford.

After the Church reviewed our report and worked with Chuck to determine which maintenance needs they could address within their budget, they contracted with us to perform the work.

historic 2

Is your historical building deteriorating?  

Do you need a maintenance plan for your historic home?  

Find out in these four easy steps:

#1: Contact us to decide which maintenance plan tier is best for your building

#2: Purchase the maintenance appraisal

#3: Schedule the maintenance appraisal appointment

#4: Sit back and have a cup of tea while we work our magic and get you’re your report!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every May, the National Trust for Historic Preservation picks a new theme for their National Preservation Month.  This year, they’ve built it around: “See! Save! Celebrate!” to encourage us to see our historic places, save the threatened ones, and celebrate the vital role they play in our communities.

To support that goal, we’re going to do a three-part blog series with each post focusing on one aspect of the theme.  Last week we posted about seeing PA historical architecturewith an overview of the styles found in Pennsylvania and the time period they are associated with, and we gave you resources for saving historic buildings in another blog post.

Now we want to celebrate projects that saved historic buildings in Pennsylvania for future generations and give you a list of ways you can support and encourage historic preservation projects.

First I’m going to begin by tooting our own horn a little bit.  In November of 2011, we began working on a project that looked like this:

historic restoration

 

The Franklin Street Train Station in Reading, PA was originally built in the 1920’s.  In 1972 when Hurricane Agnes destroyed the building, it was abandoned and sat empty until 2011 when the Berks Area Regional Transit Authority began the massive undertaking of restoring the building to its original glory so they could use it as a bus terminal for their public busing system.

After sitting abandoned for 40 years, the building was in terrible shape.  Such terrible shape that in 1999 it was listed as being “At Risk” on the PA At Risk list of threatened historic buildings.  The flooding of Hurricane Agnes did the initial damage, but vagrants and vandals over the years, as well as several fires, decimated the building.

historic building preservation

 

historic building

 

historic preservation

 

 

Every May, the National Trust for Historic Preservation picks a new theme for their National Preservation Month.  This year, they’ve built it around: “See! Save! Celebrate!” to encourage us to see our historic places, save the threatened ones, and celebrate the vital role they play in our communities.

To support that goal, we’re going to do a three-part blog series with each post focusing on one aspect of the theme.  Last week we posted about seeing PA historical architecture with an overview of the styles found in Pennsylvania and the time period they are associated with.  With this post we’re focusing on “Save!” since Pennsylvania’s historical architecture is certainly worth saving.

If you’re reading our blog, you likely know why it’s important to save our historic buildings – they preserve our architectural heritage and character, they give us a window into the past, they save on energy consumption and invigorate local economies, etc.

But do you know what to do to save a threatened building?

Save Historic BuildingsSave Historic HomesSave Abandoned Buildings

 

 

Resources to Save Historic Buildings

I want to start by being brutally honest about a few things.  There is no guarantee a threatened historic building will be saved and not every historic building should be saved.

If you’re recovered from the shock of those truths, read on to learn about the preservation resources you can use to try and save the ones that are important to you and your community:

 

HISTORICAL ARCHITECTURE REVIEW BOARD (HARB)

A HARB is a public advisory body created by state and local laws that oversees exterior alterations to any building in a federally designated historic district that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  HARB’s typically reviews changes such as alterations to roof lines, changes in openings, demolition of projections, additions to the building, changes in exterior treatments.  In creating their recommendations, HARB’s generally take into account the impact of the changes on the historic and architectural character of the district and its streetscapes, the cohesiveness of the changes with the building’s architectural style, and whether or not the materials and workmanship proposed are in keeping with the historic nature of the building.

If you are concerned about changes to a threatened historic building you would like to protect, your first step is to determine whether or not that building exists in a federally designated historic district overseen by a HARB.  If it is, you can find out more information about the changes from the HARB process.

 

LOCAL HISTORICAL DESIGNATIONS

Here in Lancaster, PA, the need to protect the overall character of our many historic buildings and streetscapes was recognized and in 1999 the Heritage Conservation District was created by City Council to protect those buildings not in the historic district overseen by the HARB review process.  The Lancaster Historical Commission oversees the Heritage Conservation District and must review all new construction and demolition on a building in the district.  Between the HARB and the Historical Commission, there are over 20,000 historic buildings protected by a review process in Lancaster.

If you are concerned about a threatened historic building in your community you can first investigate whether or not a review process has been created for buildings not in a designated district reviewed by HARB.  If there is no review process for those buildings, you can open a conversation in your community and with your local governing officials about creating one.

 

THE NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a private, nonprofit organization created in 1949 that provides leadership, education, advocacy and resources to save historic sites. The Trust can help donors with everything from obtaining additional funds and working with architects and contractors to enlisting community support, getting buildings listed on national and state registers of historic places, or even obtaining plaques for historic structures.

They also have a National Trust Preservation Fund provides financial assistance and direct investment to support preservation efforts in cities, towns, and rural areas. The Trust also has a Main Street Center, which promotes the revitalization of commercial districts and downtowns, combining historic preservation with economic development.

 

PARTNERS FOR SACRED PLACES

If the building you are trying to save is a religious building, monument, or institution you can turn to Partners for Sacred Places, a national, nonsectarian, nonprofit organization that provides training and resources to congregations that focuses on preserving religious sites.

 

THE NATIONAL PRESERVATION CONFERENCE

Held each fall, the National Preservation Conference is the the single best source for information, ideas, inspiration, and contacts for professionals in preservation and allied fields, dedicated volunteers, and serious supporters.  For more information, visit the conference website or call 202-588-6100.

 

PRESERVATION BOOKS

The National Trust offers booklets on preservation issues, including topics such as Appraising Historic Properties, Buyer’s Guide to Older and Historic Houses, Design Review in Historic Districts, Rescuing Historic Resources: How to Respond to a Preservation Emergency, Coping with Contamination: A Primer for Preservationists, and Protecting America’s Historic Neighborhoods: Taming the Teardown Trend.

 

HISTORICAL AND PRESERVATION SOCIETIES, TRUSTS, AND ORGANIZATIONS

There are a multitude of national and local preservation organizations with a wealth of information and resources you can use to identify threatened historic properties and organize community efforts to save them.  You can find these organization by Googling key search terms like “preservation organization”, “preservation society”, “historical society”, etc. – adding in the locality you are trying to find them in.  Don’t discount national organizations, though, they are valuable too!

 

 

 

 

In keeping with our promise to share with you various primary resources from the Civil War in honor of the sesquicentennial this year, here are a few photos from the Library of Congress’ extensive Civil War collection.  We’ve included some information about each of the subjects in the photos – some of which may be well known (like black soldiers) and others which may not (like the rise of embalming during the war). 

The Library of Congress has over sixteen thousand pictures from the Civil War – you can browse and search them on their website if you would like to spend more time taking a look at these wonderfully preserved artifacts from the war.

 

[Doctors examining a Federal prisoner returned from prison]

Doctors examining a Federal prisoner returned from prison

 

The Andersonville Civil War Prison

The Andersonville Civil War Prison was the most infamous of all the Civil War prisons. Located in the village of Andersonville, Sumpter County, Georgia, became notorious for its overcrowding, starvation, disease, and cruelty.  It was in operation from February 1864 to April 1865.

Andersonville Prison was established as a “stockade for Union enlisted men”.  The prison consisted of 27 acres and was enclosed with walls made of pine logs, which stood 15-20 feet high.  The “stockade” held a hospital but no barracks were ever constructed for the prisoners.  Originally intended to hold 10,000 men, Andersonville at one time held over 33,000 men.  According to records, a total of 49,485 prisoners went through the gates of Andersonville Prison.

Prisoners suffered from hunger, disease, medical shortages, and exposure.  The death rate at Andersonville was the highest of all Civil War prisons.  A staggering 13,700 men died within thirteen months!

The superintendent of the prison was Captain Henry Wirz.  It is said he was heartless and high-handed.  John L. Ransom, a Michigan sergeant and Andersonville prisoner, wrote in his diary on May 10, 1864:  “Captain Wirz very domineering and abusive, is afraid to come into camp any more.  A thousand men here would willingly die if they could kill him first.  The worst man I ever saw.”  Captain Wirz was tried and hanged by a military court after the war.

Andersonville Prison was investigated by the Confederate War Department, this mere fact would attest to the horrors suffered by prisoners at Andersonville. The prisoner’s burial ground is now a National Cemetery and contains 13,737 graves, of which 1,040 are marked unknown.

The area is now designated as a National Park and can be visited.  Visitors will experience a great sense of sorrow upon seeing this vast number of graves.

From censusdiggins.com, for a complete list of Civil War prisons with information on each of them visit this page on their website.  For their information on Andersonville, including a prisoner name search, POW database, and lists of prisoners who died at Andersonville, please visit this page on their website.

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Gibson's horse battery (C. 3d U.S. Art'y.) near Fair Oaks, Va. June 1862

Gibson’s horse battery (C. 3d U.S. Art’y.) near Fair Oaks, Va. June 1862


U.S. Horse Artillery Brigade

Officers of the Horse Artillery Brigade at Fair Oaks, 1862. Photo by James F. Gibson. Library of Congress.

The Horse Artillery Brigade of the Army of the Potomac was a brigade of various batteries of horse artillery during the American Civil War. Made up almost entirely of individual, company-strength batteries from the Regular Army’s five artillery regiments, the Horse Artillery operated under the command umbrella of the Cavalry Corps. The Horse Artillery differed from other light artillery (also known as “mounted” artillery) in that each member of the unit traveled on his own horse, rather than the traditional light artillery practice of some riding horses, while others rode on the limbers and caissons, with still others traveling on foot. With each man on his own horse, the unit could travel faster and more efficiently. It was the brainchild of former artillery captain and Brig. Gen. William Farquhar Barry, Chief of Artillery for the Army of the Potomac, in 1861. With such a large percentage of the U.S. Horse Artillery being artillery batteries from the regular U.S. Army, it developed a superb reputation for military efficiency, accuracy of fire, and command presence in the field and in battle.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[sws_grey_box box_size=”630″]  Term: “Battery” (Civil War) Refers to one or more pieces of artillery.  Usually, a Field Battery of Artillery was attached to each Infantry Brigade, and this Battery would include 1 captain, 3 lieutenants, 150 men with 6 guns and 88 horses.  The guns were muzzle loaders, 3 inch rifles, or 6 or 12 pdr. smooth bore. Late in the war, batteries were reduced to 4 guns.  Also, a Battery of Horse Artillery often accompanied each cavalry brigade, and this battery included 1 captain, 3 lieutenants, 150 men, 6 guns and 140 horses (cannoneers rode horses).

From the Wisconsin Historical Society website.[/sws_grey_box]

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[Two brothers in arms]

 

History of Black Troops in the Civil War

The U.S. Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act in July 1862. It freed slaves of owners in rebellion against the United States, and amilitia act empowered the President to use freed slaves in any capacity in the army. President Abraham Lincoln was concerned with public opinion in the four border states that remained in the Union, as they had numerous slaveholders, as well as with northern Democrats who supported the war but were less supportive of abolition than many northern Republicans. Lincoln opposed early efforts to recruit black soldiers, although he accepted the Army’s using them as paid workers.

Union Army setbacks in battles over the summer of 1862 led Lincoln to emancipate all slaves in states at war with the Union. In September 1862 Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, announcing that all slaves in rebellious states would be free as of January 1. Recruitment of colored regiments began in full force following the Proclamation of January 1863.

The United States War Department issued General Order Number 143 on May 22, 1863, establishing a “Bureau of Colored Troops” to facilitate the recruitment of African-American soldiers to fight for the Union Army.  Regiments, including infantry, cavalry, engineers, light artillery, and heavy artillery units, were recruited from all states of the Union and became known as the United States Colored Troops (USCT).

[sws_pullquote_right] “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.”

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass [/sws_pullquote_right]

Approximately 175 regiments composed of more than 178,000 free blacks and freedmen served during the last two years of the war. Their service bolstered the Union war effort at a critical time. By war’s end, the men of the USCT composed nearly one tenth of all Union troops. The USCT suffered 2,751 combat casualties during the war, and 68,178 losses from all causes. Disease caused the most fatalities for all troops, black and white.

USCT regiments were led by white officers, and rank advancement was limited for black soldiers. The Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments in Philadelphia opened a Free Military Academy for Applicants for the Command of Colored Troops at the end of 1863.  For a time, black soldiers received less pay than their white counterparts, but they (and their supporters) lobbied and gained equal pay.  Notable members of USCT regiments included Martin Robinson Delany, and the sons of Frederick Douglass.

The courage displayed by colored troops during the Civil War played an important role in African-Americans gaining new rights.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A battery of "Quaker Guns"

A battery of “Quaker Guns”

 

Quaker Guns

A Quaker Gun is a deception tactic that was commonly used in warfare during the 18th and 19th centuries. Although resembling an actual cannon, the Quaker Gun was simply a wooden log, usually painted black, used to deceive an enemy. Misleading the enemy as to the strength of an emplacement was an effective delaying tactic. The name derives from the Religious Society of Friends or “Quakers”, who have traditionally held a religious opposition to war and violence in the Peace Testimony.

Usage during the American Civil War

Quaker guns made of pine logs were mounted in a ruse to fool the Union into believing that the Confederates were much better armed at theSiege of Port Hudson, Louisiana in 1863. Black rings were painted on the end of the logs to make the muzzles look convincing. It worked. AfterAdmiral Farragut’s two vessels passed by Port Hudson, the Union chose to never attack from the river again

Quaker guns were used by both the Northern and Southern sides in the American Civil War. The Confederate States Army frequently used them to compensate for a shortage of artillery. They were painted black at the muzzle, and positioned behind fortifications to delay Union assaults on those positions. On occasion, real gun carriages were used to complete the deception.

Perhaps the most famous use of Quaker Guns was by Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston who placed Quaker Guns in his field works around Centreville, Virginia in March 1862, to indicate that the works were still occupied while, in fact, the Confederates were withdrawing to theRappahannock River.

Another major example occurred during the Siege of Corinth: “During the night of May 29, the Confederate army moved out. They used the Mobile and Ohio Railroad to carry the sick and wounded, the heavy artillery, and tons of supplies. When a train arrived, the troops cheered as though reinforcements were arriving. They set up dummy Quaker Guns along the defensive earthworks. Camp fires were kept burning, and buglers and drummers played. The rest of the men slipped away undetected…”

Quaker Guns were also used to bolster numerous Confederate fortifications during the Siege of Petersburg and greatly assisted in lengthening the amount of time the Confederates were able to hold their positions against the overwhelmingly superior and overbearing Union troops.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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[Unknown location. Embalming surgeon at work on soldier's body]

Embalming surgeon at work on soldier’s body

 

 Embalming During the Civil War

Wars are often responsible for medical and scientific advances, and the Civil War drove the need for a new science: an improved way to handle the dead. So many men died and so many were far from home, there was a growing need for a way to preserve a body for a decent burial once the body arrived home. Families wanted to see their fallen sons once more, and railroads added to the urgency by refusing to carry decaying bodies (identifiable by smell).

In the mid-19th century, the French developed a method of arterial embalming, and an American, a Dr. Thomas Holmes (1817-1900), who trained and worked as a coroner’s physician in New York in the 1850s, had begun experimenting with embalming methods used by the French.

The first military fatality of the war, Colonel Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth (1837-1861), had worked for Lincoln in Springfield and later helped with the presidential campaign.  It was said that Dr. Holmes visited Lincoln and offered to embalm the body of Lincoln’s friend at no charge.

As a result of this successful effort to preserve the body, Dr. Holmes was given a commission from the Army Medical Corps to embalm the corpses of dead Union officers in order that they might be sent home for burial. Holmes is said to have embalmed as many as 4,000 bodies himself, but he also created a fluid that could be used for embalming and sold it to other physicians for $3 per gallon. (At that time, the chemicals were a mixture of arsenic, zinc and mercuric chlorides, creosote, turpentine and alcohol. Formaldehyde, which soon became the primary ingredient, was not discovered until after the war.)

Though the practice of embalming established itself during the Civil War, the actual numbers of people who were embalmed were actually relatively small. Because of the difficulty in identifying bodies and communicating with families about sending a body home, only about 40,000 of the approximately 650,000 soldiers who died during the Civil War were embalmed.

With the end of the Civil War, the practice of embalming died out for a time since people were likely to die near home and could be buried more quickly. Embalming surgeons became a thing of the past, and when interest in embalming returned again in the 1890s, undertakers began to perform these duties. Companies that wanted to sell embalming fluid sent salesmen around the country to demonstrate the process and provide certificates of training, and the practice grew. (State licensing finally entered the picture in the 1930s.)

From americacomesalive.com.

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Embalming was performed by those with a medical background and usually involved the use of toxic chemicals. Embalming was performed by squeezing a rubber ball that would pump the embalming fluid into the deceased’s artery in the area of the armpit. This process took a couple of hours. There rarely was a need to drain blood because that occurred on the battlefield. When the embalming was complete, the body was placed in a wooden box usually lined with zinc. On the lid appeared the name of the deceased along with his parents’ names. Inside were his personal belongings. Holmes’ fee for embalming was $50 for an officer and $25 for an enlisted man. As the war continued and embalmers were in high demand, those figures rose to $80 and $30, respectively.

From The Washington Times.

Read more about the history of embalming and its rise during the Civil War on their website. [/sws_grey_box]

 

 

 

 

 

One of the exhibitors at the recent Greater Philadelphia Historic Home Show was approaching preservation from a unique perspective – “mass” production.

When most of us think of traditional wrought irons handcrafted by blacksmiths, we think of custom orders.  But Fagan’s Forge is forging a new path with handcrafted wrought irons.  They sell stock items only, no custom orders.  How do they do that?  They place orders with traditional blacksmiths across the country for quantities of items that they work on in between their custom orders and then Fagan’s Forge carries that stock.

But don’t let “mass” and “stock” scare you away – Fagan’s Forge is reproducing patterns that are literally hundreds of years old and date as far back as the 1600’s.  Nancy McMerriman is the second generation owner of the Forge, her father founded the business, and her knowledge of the history of wrought iron latches, handles, and hinges, along with her attention to detail, results in products that are authentic period pieces.

Below is the information from Fagan’s Forge’s website, you can browse their online catalog here.

 

A History of Wrought Iron from Fagan’s Forge

WROUGHT IRON THROUGH THE AGES

In the earliest days iron was thought of as a strange mystery. It was such a wonderful material, so hard, so strong, beyond the imagination of early man to take for granted. They were so impressed that they envisioned gods to be responsible for the existence of this wonder metal. The material from which King Arthur’s Excalibur was fashioned. the Norse god, Odin was thought to assist a gifted smith with his very fine work, and in the Christian era, St. Clement was the patron saint of blacksmiths.

The black smith, the anvil smiter, was thought to be the most important craftsman of his time. He made most of the tools used by other craftsmen to ply their trade. Without the blacksmith, the other tradesmen activity would grind to a halt.

The great Roman historian Pliny, speaks at length about iron, the wondrous metal that did great work turning over the earth at plow time and slaughtering the enemy in time of war. Wrought iron is an enduring metal, in places where it has been left to perform its first intended work, “if it could speak” would tell us tales from the birth of this now mighty land. It would tell us of times of doubt, times when our might was not so great that we could think that this might was right.

THE MATERIAL – WROUGHT IRON

About Wrought Iron

The making of wrought iron became established in Europe about 500 B.C. The wrought iron was much harder than bronze, and the iron ores were more widely distributed. The other ingredient, charcoal, was also readily available.
 Wroughtiron, though not as hard as steel, did have a quality superior to steel in that it resisted rusting due to its silica, or glass, content. The silica arranged itself in thin layers in the wrought iron and restricted the formation of rust.

The eastern coast of North America was found to have considerable deposits of iron ore and the ample forest cover provided an excellent supply of charcoal to fuel the blast furnaces of the day.

The colonies exported a good amount of iron bar to England before the Revolution. During the Revolution bog iron from the New Jersey pine barrens supplied iron to cast cannons for our revolutionary forces.

After the Revolution iron production dropped off until the country reorganized. After that point iron, and then steel production grew at a phenomenal rate to support the great expansion of new industry and the great expansion west.

Wrought iron with its ductile rust resistant qualities is just about nonexistent today. We use the term “wrought” as an adjective concerning iron not as the very important noun it used to be.

The mild steel we use today to make types of objects from an earlier time may not resist rust to the degree wrought iron did but our improved coatings may help a bit.

 

A History of Hinges

Large HL Hinges were common for passage doors, room doors and closet doors in the 17th, 18th and even 19th centuries. On taller doors H hinges were occasionally used in the middle along with the HL hinges.

H Hinges were shaped like an H and used on flush mounted doors. Small H hinges (3–4 in/76–100 mm) tend to be used for cabinet hinges, while larger hinges (6–7 in/150–180 mm) are for passage doors or closet doors.

A BIT OF HISTORY

American Wrought Iron

Second generation owner Nancy McMerriman  browses her bible of wrought iron

1694 – Those wishing to inspect the house carefully may see in the cellar the foundation arch of hand-made bricks and stone, and an old closet door with hinges attached by hand-made nails. In the attic is another of these HL hinges; the chimney is of bricks made in the town in 1694, originally joined with mud mortar. The floors and most of the roof timbers are the original white pine, and some of the old wooden pins with which they were put together still remain.

1730 – The HAVILAND INN was built in 1730 and is now the village hall. The original windows are intact; the beams are wooden-pegged; hand-hewn shingles cover three-quarters of the structure; several of the doors have Colonial “HL” hinges. Dame Tamar Haviland, a war widow, was here hostess to Washington on several occasions.

1775 – The H and HL hinges came into use in New England in the early and lasted until after the Revolution. These hinges were cut out of heavy sheet iron and were made in factories in England. This type of hinge was superseded by the cast-iron butt, still in use, which was invented in England in 1775, and adopted very generally in the United States at the close of the Revolution. In some old houses that have been restored and in many modern constructions done in the manner of the colonial homes.

1837 – When the colonies belonged to England, they followed English laws for marking silver, but after independence, standards varied. In 1837, Congress passed a law that established 900/1000 as the official standard for coin silver. Most silver objects stamped “coin” were not made from melted coins. THE COLONISTS WERE SO RELIGIOUS THAT THEY PUT HL HINGES ON THEIR DOORS, WHICH STOOD FOR HOLY LORD.

1948 – CLUES: In 1948, author Carl Drepperd wrote that, “Anything in wrought iron, from a four-inch rattail hinge to a complete iron balcony, has a collector waiting somewhere for it. Even the common H and HL hinges have value, while ram’s-horn hinges are on a parity with fine historic china.” What he didn’t say was that all of these, and other wrought iron items were being reproduced; and still are.

1989 – Even the common H and HL hinges have value, while ram’s-horn hinges are on a parity with fine historic china.

historic restorations of bean handle

About Handles

Bean Handle
The Bean is a delicate handmade iron pull, simple in design and very functional. The most common pull found in early New England homes. A beautiful replica of the early handle, the Bean handle is finished with a rubbed beeswax/linseed oil finish that brings out the beauty of the iron details. For outdoor use, request a painted black finish. Please note that the height of the Bean handle is not the same as the height of the Bean latch, although the proportions are the same. 2-1/2” x 6-1/2”

Spade Handle
The Spade handle is sister to the Spade latch and is perfect for closets, large cupboards or any application where a full latch is not necessary. The Spade is suitable for interior or exterior use, and can be ordered in a boiled beeswax/linseed oiled finish or painted black.. 3” x 10”

 

About Latches

Bean Latch

Bean Latch
In the Suffolk family of latches and handles, the Bean latch is a simple latch design, the most common found in early New England homes. Ours is a beautifully hand made replica of an early latch found in Horsham, Pennsylvania, circa 1755.

Can be ordered with a rubbed oil finish for interior, or painted black finish for exterior use. 2-1/2” x 8”

Spade Latch
Another Suffolk variety, our Spade Latch is a beautifully hand-crafted piece that will grace any handsome paneled or plank door.  The history of this latch extends all along the eastern shoreline, and its ancestors can still be found in many antique homes in New England.

The Spade is suitable for interior or exterior use, and can be ordered in a beeswax boiled Linseed oiled finish or painted black.. 3” x 10”

Meeting House LatchRestoration of Bean Latch
This handsome latch is quite an eye-catcher. Reproduced from a latch found on the front of a 1780 Connecticut meeting house, this large latch is a beautiful representation of colonial craftsmanship.

The Meeting House latch would grace the front entryway of any restoration or reproduction home. 4-1/2” x 18-1/2”

Mission Latch 
Another Suffolk Latch variety, the Mission latch is a slightly different design than was commonly seen in early colonial homes. Ours is similar to a door in the Wayside Inn, Sudbury Massachusetts, circa 1683.

This beautiful latch, with its beveled edges and detailed hammered finish, would be a handsome addition to a period home or elegant outbuilding. Because of its size, the Mission latch is primarily an exterior latch, so is painted black to withstand the weather. 3-1/2” x 13-1/2”

 

historic restoration

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our recent blog post from Ken Roginski about the mistakes and and “no-no’s” that are so often made by well-meaning historic building owners as they attempt to preserve a house through the years reminded us very much about a project we did a few years ago.  The John Maddox Denn House project was built in 1725 and over the years it had been remodeled several times, with mistake piling on top of mistake.  By the time we were hired, a complete restoration was required to return the historic home to its original period of significance. (You can also read an excerpt of the book our own Lois Groshong wrote about the restoration of the Denn House “2001 Restoration of a Colonial Home“.)

Given how commonly restoration and renovation mistakes are made when working on historic buildings, we’re also in the process of launching our very first Preservation Primer that addresses this very subject.  Look for the announcement of that release soon, but in the meantime, the following books (taken straight from our very own bookshelves) may help you learn more about how to work on a historic building without compromising its historic fabric.

 

Collins Period House: How to Repair, Restore, & Care for Your Home by Albert Jackson and David Day

books

Collins Period House is intended for home-owners of period property who appreciate the beauty, tradition, and fine craftsmanship of their older homes and who wish to maintain and restore them in a way that is true to their individual histories.

A step-by-step guide, Collins Period House puts sympathetic restoration firmly within the grasp of all period-home owners.  Detailed instructions and nearly a thousand informative photographs and drawings explain exactly what can be done, using authentic techniques and materials.  The book also indicates what should be left well alone and when it may be necessary to call in a specialist.

The authors concentrate on the restorations of those elements that give buildings their special charm and character.  They explain how to renovate existing period fixtures and fittings, and suggest sources of authentic designs to replace those discarded or beyond repair.  And when there is little possibility of obtaining the genuine article, suitable reproductions are proposed.

Whether it is simply refinishing an antique banister or installing a period mantelpiece, Collins Period House will give readers the confidence to tackle restoration projects on their own by painstakingly guiding them through every stage in the process, until they achieve the home of their dreams beautifully restored for posterity.”

 

Building Codes for Existing and Historic Buildings by Melvyn Green, S.E.

images“Learn to apply the International Building Code and International Existing Building Code to historic buildings.  Written for architects, engineers, preservation, and code enforcement professionals, this is the only comprehensive book that examines how the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Existing Building Code (IEBC) can be applied to historic and existing buildings.  For ease of use, the book is organized to parallel the structure of the IEBC itself, and the approach is cumulative, with the objective of promoting an understanding of the art of applying building regulations to the environment of existing buildings.

Building Codes for Existing and Historic Buildings begins with a discussion of the history of building regulations in the United States and the events and conditions that created them.  Next, it provides thorough coverage of:

-The rational behind code provisions and historic preservation principles

-Major building code requirements: occupancy and use, types of construction, and heights and areas

-Building performance characteristics: fire and life safety, structural safety, health and hygiene, accident prevention, accessibility, and energy conservation

-Case study projects that reinforce the material covered

Additionally, the book includes building analysis worksheets – both blank and filled-in versions with examples – that illustrate how to develop a code approach for an individual building.  If you are a professional at any level who is working on creating a plan that meets the intent of the code for historic or existing buildings, Building Codes for Existing and Historic Buildings gives you everything that you need to succeed.”

 

Restoring Old Houses by Nigel Hutchins

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“The many professional disciplines and trades required to restore a house would take lifetimes to master.  This book is not meant to teach those skills, but to aid the layman and preservationist in the process, pitfalls, and delights of this endeavor.

Evolving one’s lifestyle to suit a lifestyle of another decade or century is a challenge technically, socially, and visually.  “Preservation,” “recycle,” and “reuse” are terms we use in our day-to-day conversation.  When looking at the resource of four hundred years of domestic architecture, these axioms seem easy to follow.  Unfortunately, the process of preservation has given way first to neglect and patchwork solutions, and second to a wholesale popularizing of preservation, which in turn creates its own set of problems.

The process of neglect, while its very meaning is negative, has in many cases meant that change has not occurred.  This lack of change means details are undisturbed.  The layout of the rooms remains the same.  In fact, the vestiges of the original structure are often untouched.  The preservationist can then discern how and why restorations should take place, marrying past and contemporary.

Therefore, while neglect is bad, it is not as grave as the second problem.  The popularizing of period homes has in many cases destroyed the very elements that preservationists should be saving.  For instance, in an effort to glamorize a structure, neoclassical features may be stuck on neogothic facades, or windows may be transformed into T.V. colonial.  Often elements are replaced rather than refurbished.

The further evolution of this process is the setting apart from the general neighborhood of the “heritage” house or district.  The labeling of structures and areas as “heritage” may save them in the immediate; however, this approach also sets them apart from the general community, depriving them of their role as a working part of that particular neighborhood.  Heritage preservation should be part of the housing building process today.  The very term preserve means “to keep”.  Old does not have to be new again, but functional, both visually and technically.

It is important that we, as temporary tenants in a period house, make changes and maintain it for future generations.”

 

Restoring Houses of Brick and Stone by Nigel Hutchins

images (1)“In Restoring Houses of Brick & Stone, Nigel Hutchins has created a worthy successor to Restoring Old Houses.

This splendidly thorough work is at once a comprehensive history and a practical manual.  Its starting point is an exhortation to the well-intentioned old-home preservationist to know first and foremost the meaning of the term “restore.”  For the restorer, historical accuracy is the watchword, even if the results shatters our preferred fancies.  For the renovator, there are more options.  We may very well wish to rebuild a historic home according to our wishes for what history should have been, or we may take the earnest path and seek to return a structure to what it once was in actual fact – the important thing is that we are aware that we are making a choice.

A great wealth of pleasure accrues from a slow and sensitive reading of each chapter.  The historical introductory comments are a special treat, valuable if for no reason than to spare us the exasperation of repeating the mistakes of those who have gone before.  The historical erudition of these pages is matched by a wealth of sensible day-to-day insights regarding selection and repair of building materials, techniques of construction and reconstruction, methods of cleaning, principles of renovation and additions and invaluable discussions of things best not done at all.

For the professional and amateur alike, here is a clear-headed, wise and even witty account of a thousand useful topics.”

 

 

Practical Restorations Reports by John Leeke, American Preservationeer

Practical Restoration ReportsPractical Restoration Reports are a detailed technical series on preservation topics packed with practical methods you can use now.

The reports contain complete descriptions of useful techniques with drawings and photos that reflect the latest developments in the field of architectural preservation.  Information in each report is updated as new developments in preservation are actually used on projects around the country.  These reports are based on real projects and the author’s thirty years experience as a preservation tradesman and contractor.  He brings that experience to work for the readers of these reports.  He developed these reports in response to the needs of professionals, contractors, and homeowners for detailed and accurate information about their old and historic buildings.

Homeowners & Do-It-Yourselfers:
Use Practical Restoration Reports as do-it-yourself guides.  They give you all the information you need to talk with trades people confidently

Trades People & Contractors:
Bring your crews up-to-speed quickly on new preservation techniques with Practical Restoration Reports.  With their help, you can move into productive work with less time and hassle.

Architects & Professionals:
Refer to Practical Restoration Reports in your specifications, then just include a copy of the report.  The reports provide a hands-on approach contractors will appreciate.