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.