Littleton NH Public Library - Frame repair, cleaning and restoration

This project consisted of picture frame restoration of two frames from the Littleton Library in Littleton, NH.  We cleaned, restored and repaired the frames while the art was being cleaned and restored.  The frames were carefully vacumed and washed using Vulpex soap and water.  Two of the eight leaf motif corner moldings required part or whole replacement.  Two of the corners with the least damage were repaired and molded. New corners were cast with Hydrocoat plaster (plaster of Paris) and several smaller areas of the frames were also repaired.  The repairs were then painted and touched up to match the original paint.

 

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Justin Morrill Homestead skylight

We restored the skylight and the lay light for the Justin Morrill Homestead library.  Cypress was sourced for the repairs to the skylight as it was the original construction material.  Earlier repairs had been in pine but one of the main rules of historic preservation is to replicate original materials whenever possible.

The lay light sashes (which are the colored glass panels that lay flat under the peaked skylight) were in good shape structurally but a large percentage of the glass was broken.  The colored glass panes are engraved with copper wheel engraving which is the same process used to create Waterford crystal.  We were able to find one company, Cascade Crystal in Toronto, who is still doing this work to replicated some of the glass that was too damaged to be repaired.  The majority of the panes were repaired with an automotive glass epoxy.

When the skylight and the lay lights were reinstalled a plexiglass layer was added between them to protect the lay lights.

 

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St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Lyndonville, VT

St. Peter's Episcopal is a lovely little brick church built in 1898 tucked away on a side street off of Main street.  According to an article by Sylvia C. Dodge in the May 2020 issue of Vermont's Northland Journal  the church was designed by Henry Vaughn (1845-1917), an English emigrant who specialized in Gothic design. His work ranged from this little church in a small Vermont town to three of the seven chapels in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City.

The restoration work began in 2016 with managing the repointing of the building, regrading and drainage work, rebuilding the entrance ramp and paving the driveway. S. A. Fishburn, Inc. then restored the windows, both frames and sashes. Previous repairs to the window frames has been completed in the 1970s when the stained glass panels were installed.  

One of the discoveries that came to light during this project was that the wood of the window frames had been severely compromised by 80 years of powder post beetle damage. Given the brick construction the powder post beetles, which appear to have been introduced to the building in the 1940s, were concentrated in the window frames. In many areas the paint was simply a seal for sawdust and the large frames had to be removed in pieces.  In order to effectively repair the frames they were removed from the building and restored in the shop.  Prior to refinishing all of the frames were coated with a borate solution to stop any future insect or fungal damage.

The sashes also underwent a full restoration and were reinstalled with weather stripping.  The middle sahes in the three sash units were returned to functional casement windows as they were originally built.

In addition three small window units and their frames were restored and the exterior trim of the stained glass window behind the altar was repaired and Allied low-profile aluminum storm panels were installed.

 

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Old Meeting House. East Montpelier, Vermont

  This project is very special as the Meeting House retains its original 1823 interior which is very rare.   

The challenge: Creating a seating area to accommodate a wheelchair adhering to the ADA requirements without disrupting the feel (essence, spirit, gridwork, design,) of the box pews in a way that blends the ADA seating in with the congregation.
The photos start with a before and after followed by the steps as we worked through the job, dismantling the box pew and reconfiguring it. All of the construction, following the technology of the time is built with dry pinned mortise and tenon joints with the various components attached together with cut nails.
The raised floor within the box pews is laid on sleepers on the floor joints. Using a thin kerf multi-tool blade we carefully cut the floor boards and sub-flooring so that it could be laid in its exact position at floor level. 2 x 4 lumber was used to add the necessary structure between the floor joists to support the flooring.
Following the reversible tenet of Historic Preservation work we re-used as many parts as possible when reconfiguring the space without compromise any parts permanently. The front panel was moved to the back of the space. In order for it to fit the right hand stile was removed and a narrower replicated style was added. All new components were milled of salvaged lumber from an early 1800's barn in order to match more closely the age, patina, and grain patterns of the original wood. This was an important factor given that the box pews were never finished.
All of the removed pieces have been stored on site in various parts of the church. If there is a desire to return the box pew back to its original configuration it can easily be done.
Given that this is an active church with regular services and concerts I decided to let the new material to be distressed in place by regular use rather than distressing them. This organic approach will yield authentic wear after a couple of years use.