RAC Update 2/21/2006
As part of an effort to finesse the electrical plan, an investigation for physical evidence of ceiling lanterns was made by Mark W. and the Architectural Research Department. Possible evidence for the lanterns was found only in the Vestibule and the Drawing Room, although the duPonts had installed ceiling fixtures in many other rooms. More information on the evidence is included under the room reports.
Drawing Room (M-108)
Ray C. continues to carve the dutchmen for the fireplace mantel and he is currently working on the egg and darts. When he investigated the matching pattern found on the stone fireplace facing in the 1760 parlor (M-112), he discovered that the layout was a bit idiosyncratic (some of the “eggs” are quite a bit larger then others). Outside of developing a pattern for the new dutchmen, the revelation may be a bit trivial but it still brings up interesting thoughts about the quality of workmanship that is being shipped to the colonies in the early and mid-18th century.
We are also starting to map out the holes we found under the circa 1870s or 1880s (?) finish coat. The western wall has been completed and it appears that the pier mirror currently found in Montpelier’s collection could have been placed on the south side of the elevation. However, the visible holes in the frame do not exactly line up and we’ll inspect the mirror again to see if there is any additional evidence
Mark W and I also found what appears to be a pre-1830s hole (it was made with a spoon bit) in a joist located in the approximate center of the drawing room ceiling. Currently it is speculated that the hole was used to hang a ceiling lantern or lamp.
Physical evidence for a ceiling lantern was also found in this space. The evidence consists blocking made from pit sawn wood secured with double-struck cut nails (similar to other Period Three examples). The blocking is again located in roughly the center of the ceiling. While a single rectangular nail hole can be seen, a majority of the evidence for how the lantern was hung as been obscured by a later electrification campaign.
The window architrave was carefully removed from the north window to allow for the brickwork above the window to be stabilized and repaired. After removal, Steve Chronister noticed that flat tipped screws were found embedded in the upper corners of the architrave. The screws, which are about 3/8” in diameter, are currently assumed to be associated with cloak pins (the architrave was secured with machine cut nails in all other locations). An approximate TAQ of circa 1830 is usually given to flat tipped screws and so right now we are relating the screws to the Madison occupation. If anyone on the RAC has any further information on dating screws through changes in manufacturing techniques, we would be grateful to hear it in hopes of narrowing the date range for the pins.
Vaulted Closet (M-114)
When Wayne was repairing the brick work over the circa 1810 doorway leading into the Nelly Chamber (which was placed in the location of a circa 1764 window), he found a surviving section (roughly 6” x 8”) of the 1764 interior window jamb. The jamb is finished with plaster and is painted a dark red color. The jamb would have been located in a closet in the period I house and so it gives us an interesting insight into how the PI dwelling’s secondary spaces were finished. We are going to have Susan Buck sample the paint and hopefully she will be able to give us more information on the space’s evolution.
The cornice for the Colonnade is being repaired with wooden dutchmen and epoxy fillers. After repairs have been made, the cornice will be repainted and re-installed.
The joists and girts for the portico deck are currently being cut and installed by the carpenters. The western doorways leading to the portico have also received their newly constructed paneled jambs (Blaze Gaston). The jambs look great and it’s exciting to see elements with exposed finished surfaces being installed.
Peter P. continues to work on the southern slope of the Portico and the northern slope has been prepped for shingling. A high shingle cull rate remains an ongoing problem.
The masons (Price Masonry) continue to repair areas of failing mortar and to replace failed bricks. Specifically they are working in the basement (southern wall of the Wine Cellar (M-004)), Dolly’s Kitchen, the northern and southern wings (M-100 and M-118) and the Parlor (M-112).