Montpelier Restoration Update – 4/16/2008


The masons have installed the finished brown coat on a majority of the walls in M-108 (Drawing Room) and the brown coat to the south wall and ceiling of M-109 (South Passage) and the walls and ceiling of M-110 (South Stair). The walls and ceiling of M-107 (Entry) have also been covered with a scratch coat.

In M-108 (Drawing Room) Wayne Mays has re-attached plaster that had pulled away from the west and south walls with an acrylic based glue (better known as “Big Wally’s Plaster Magic”). The plaster was pulling away from the west wall because the plaster “keys” that hold the plaster to the wooden laths had broken off. On the south wall, settlement had caused the plaster to shear way from the brick walls. To reattach the plaster, Wayne first drilled small holes on either side of the cracked plaster and then vacuumed the dust and plaster fragments from the holes. A “conditioner” (a diluted solution of the glue) was sprayed into the holes to prepare the plaster for the thicker, caulk-like adhesive. After the conditioner had dried, the glue was injected into the holes and allowed to seep between the plaster and wooden lath or brickwork. Finally, screws with plastic washers were installed beside the cracks to draw the plaster tight against the lath or brick. After the glue dries, the screws will be removed and the holes and cracks filled with lime putty.


Dino C. and Greg Calloway continue to prepare the surviving Madison-era doors for painting.

Olivier DuPont-Huin also continues to repair and restore the surviving Madison-era doors.


In the clip above, painter Jack Fisher mixes a distemper paint and applies it to the walls of M-201 (Large Bedroom). The first step is to melt the hide glue (hide glue is solid at room temperature). When the hide glue has reached the right temperature, the melted glue is added to a mixture of pigments in warm water (the pigments give the paint its color). Jack then pours the distemper into a pail and floats the pail into a bucket of hot water to keep the paint from cooling and gelling (a technique Jack developed when he first started to apply distemper paints). The distemper is then applied to the walls with a large brush.


The high-pressure mist fire suppression system officially passed inspection this week and the Mansion is once again fully protected from fires. The high-pressure mist system was chosen for the mansion because it uses much less water then a traditional sprinkler system, resulting in less water damage if it ever has to be used. Having less water also means that the pipes used for supplying the water are much smaller then in a traditional sprinkler system and so less damage was done to the building during installation.

1797 (North) Cellar

Les Lamois continues to install the beaded boards on the north cellar partitions.

Colonnade Deck

Bill Bichell and Gene Lyman are installing the last two decking panels and they will start to install the rails of the Chinese railing this week.

South Wing Porch

Mac Ward continues to prepare the framing and supports for the south wing porch and the wheelchair lift.


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