RAC Update – 3/6/3006


We continue to sort through and map out the impact of the draft mechanical specifications.  Specific routes for each system are being traced and the impact is being recorded and minimized where possible. 


Ray C. has inventoried the existing fireplaces and hearths.  Interestingly, he found that the hearth for the c. 1809 fireplace in the Drawing Room Chamber (M-206) is made from St. Bee’s sandstone.  Since this room did not have a fireplace when it was constructed in c. 1764, it is now suspected that the mantel from the c. 1764 room below the chamber may have been moved up to this space in c. 1809.  If this hearth is found to be from one of the c. 1764 rooms, then it will also provide us with information relating the size and shape of the fireplaces in the rear rooms of the period I house (both of which had been completely demolished). 

Ray also found that the hearth in the Old Library (M-207) is composed of a slab of Whitehaven sandstone.  Whitehaven sandstone was also used for the Dining Room Chamber (M-201) and the Dining room (M-105), but, instead of slabs, three individual pieces were used.  More information on the hearth still needs to be collected, but hopefully it will help us to refine the date for the mantel as well as provide clues to the sequence for the development of the other mantels.

Several bricks from the top of the firebox in the Dining Room Chamber (M-201) (the bricks, which appear to be fairly modern, were laid in a non-Madison era mortar) were also removed by Ray C.  It appears that the firebox for this chimney was completely rebuilt (duPonts?), but followed the outline of the Madison era chimney.

Finally, after investigating the Dining Room (M-105) fireplace further, Ray found a large chip of Whitehaven stone in the 1797 setting bed.  Evidence of three individual stones can also be seen in the setting bed.  Since the setting bed provides such a strong context, we are currently assuming that the fireplace hearth was originally composed of three pieces of Whitehaven sandstone.  There was also some evidence found in the firebox that appears to show that the fireplace was “rumfordized” in 1809.  The angled walls appear to have survived the 1870s renovations, but were removed by the duPonts in c. 1901.  However, we are still (mentally and physically) shifting through the physical evidence and the current interpretation is sure to evolve.


After reviewing the impact that the chases would have on the basement space (M-004), as well as fact that the ductwork would have to be routed down and under a joist header (blocking the basement window bay) for each vent, the current plan is not to re-use the existing vents.  Also, by placing the vents in the corners, the visual impact on the Drawing Room will be lessened, which will help to accurately interpret the space. 

Drawing Room (M-108) 

The walls are being scraped one last time and the locations of the nail holes are being finalized.  Additional holes are being found, including a row on the northwest wall about an inch above the location of the large excavation made to uncover the position of the original NW fireplace mass (Chappell; 1997).  Previously we had believed that most of the information on this wall had been blitzed, but fortunately the excavators stopped just short of the holes.


Repairs continue to the cornice.  (Mac, Amy, and Austin)


Bill continues to cut and fit the joists and girts for the restored Portico’s deck. 


Peter P. and the Montpelier carpentry crew continue to lay singles and prep the roof.  Work has expanded to the larger areas and rapid progress is being made.


Repairs to the brickwork in the basement and wings continue.


Repairs to the plate and several first floor joists were undertaken in the Wine Cellar (M-004).


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