The masons have white coated M-107 (Entry) and applied the single coat of plaster to the South Wing Cellar Stairs. With the completion of these two rooms all of the rooms in the Mansion have officially been plastered. All that is left are plaster repairs in M-114 (Nelly’s Bedroom Closet) and several other small jobs. Plastering the mansion has been a monumental undertaking requiring over 80 tons of plaster applied over a period of 11 months (the masons started plastering in late June of 2007). The masons from Virginia Lime Works (lead by Wayne Mays) have done a masterful job and the plaster should last for hundreds of years. The masons have also plastered the fire box of M-100 (North Wing Chamber) and M-104 (Mr. Madison’s Room) this week.
The masons continue to whitewash the walls of M-109 (South Passage), M-112 (Nelly’s Best Room) and M-008 (South Wing Cellar Passage).
The painters have started to prepare M-111 (Nelly’s Back Room) and M-112 (Nelly’s Best Room) for painting.
Olivier Dupont-Huin continues to return the surviving Madison doors to their original sizes and Keith Forry also continues to install patches to repair holes in the Madison doors that are associated with second and third generation locks.
M-108 (Drawing Room)
The overdoor pediment has been installed in the Drawing Room. Even thought this element had been lost, paint lines on the surrounding plaster had preserved a partial outline of the pediment. The design for the new pediment was developed using this outline as well as a surviving pediment found at Monticello. The Monticello pediment was used because it had been built by the same team of carpenters (James Dinsmore and John Neilson) that built the original Montpelier pediment. The new pediment is supported by French cleats (similar to how it was originally installed) and the above video documents its installation.
The masons have started to lay a clay floor in M-005 (Secured Storage Room). Clay floors were very common in secondary spaces up until approximately the middle of the 19th century (although they remained common in more rudimentary houses up until the early 20th century). The new floor is based on samples of a Madison-era clay floor that were found archaeologically. We were able to replicate the historic mix after having samples of the original floor analyzed. To recreate the floor, clay, sand, brick dust and lime are combined with a small amount of water to form a mixture with the consistency of very dry dough. This mixture is then spread on the floor, leveled with a float and packed into place with a tamper. The floor should take a week or two to cure, but after it is cured it will form a hard, stable surface.
The masons are preparing to whitewash the portico columns. Whitewash was selected for these columns because traces of it were found on fragments of the original columns recovered by the archaeologists. Before the columns are whitewashed, a small area of the rendering that had started to come loose has been repaired.
South Wing Porch
Mac Ward continues to prepare the framing for the eastern deck on the south wing. The masons have also started to lay the flagstone which will pave the area leading to the handicap lift that is going to be installed beneath the porch.
Thomas Tyler has finished laying the forms for the pathways that will lead from the Portico stairs to the cellar entrances.