RAC Update – 6/5/2006
Price Masonry continues to prepare the duPont period arched openings for installation of the return air ductwork. Most of the repairs/stabilizations at the cellar level have already been completed and they are now working on buttressing the first floor arches with new brickwork. In the course of plaster removal on the northern arched opening, evidence for the chimney breast for the c. 1765 northeastern room was discovered. This chimney breast had been demolished in 1809 when the Drawing Room (M-108) was created. Additionally, Mark discovered evidence for a window opening, which was enclosed in 1797, on the eastern corner of the c. 1765 north elevation. The widow suggests that a closet was original installed in the northeastern room in c. 1765.
The stainless steel liners for the chimney flues have almost all been installed and no serious problems have been encountered.
A site meeting was also held with the contractors selected for the HVAC and mechanical’s installation work.
North Passage (1st and 2nd Floor; M-106 and M-205)
Les has removed the first floor flooring in this space, but he is waiting to remove the joists until after the arches have been prepared for the return air duct work.
Shingling continues on the eastern elevation. The pace has picked up dramatically since they finished with the northern hip and moved to the eastern elevation.
The stringers have been mounted and blocking is being cut and installed. The next step will likely be to begin laying the decking.
After being consolidated, repaired and treated with a preservative (zintox), the pilasters have been re-installed.
Investigation for Finishes Evidence
After meeting with the I&F committee last month it was decided to expand our search for interior finishes evidence by removing all fragments from behind baseboards, in exposed joists pockets, between walls and window/door architraves and anywhere else loose fragments of plaster or other materials had accumulated. The collection of evidence was also initiated to ensure that nothing of value was lost during the installation of the mechanical systems. Josh Teates, who is organizing the architectural fragment collection, is undertaking the search and last week removed a majority of the accessible material from behind the baseboards. Even though no baseboards have been removed, a large number of objects were collected using a shop-vac fitted with a piece of flexible tubing. After carefully screening and organizing the material, Josh has found some very interesting samples. A brief list of the samples that could be Madison related found so far is included below (although, until they are analyzed we can not be sure that they date to the restoration period):
Yellow Wallpaper (no pattern, distemper) – Josh found fairly large samples of the same type of yellow wall paper in the Vestibule (M-107) and the 1765 Dining Room (M-112).
Light Yellow Wallpaper (faint pattern, does not appear to be distemper) – Found in the 1797 Passage (M-106)
Textiles from M-100 (Library or Chamber) – Lots of fabrics were found behind the baseboards and in a rodent nest located between the joists. Textiles include: a dark red piece of cloth, burlap, a piece of cloth with a repeating blue stripe, and about six or seven other miscellaneous samples.
Sash Cord (five strand hemp) – Found in the 1765 Dining room (although it looks to have some age to it, we have to double check it against the cord we are currently installing in the Mansion to be sure its not just scraps from recent work)
Plaster from M-105 (1797 Dining Room) – a small piece of plaster was found behind the baseboard in the dining room and, based on materials and thickness of the finish coat, it appears pre-date the c. 1850s plastering campaign.
Plaster from M-112 – Two samples of c. 1765 wall plaster have also turned up (complete with the distinctive high clay content scratch coat. One sample is coated with a red paint similar in color to a coating found on a splayed-plaster- window-jamb from a closet window that was encapsulated in c. 1765. The other sample, however, appears to be from the walls of M-112.
Textiles from M-112 – A piece of material that appears to have been used to edge curtains, upholstery or clothing was also found.
Josh is continuing his search, as well as starting to investigate any rodent nest that has not yet been analyzed, so we expect to continue finding additional samples of textiles (and possibly wallpaper) that might date to the restoration period.