The masons from Price Masonry have officially finished their work at Montpelier. The crew, lead by Wayne Mays, have been working on the restoration for over four-and-a-half years and the significance of their contribution to the restoration can not be overstated. During their time at Montpelier they have reconstructed missing chimneys, re-pointed mortar joints across the mansion, repaired the large voids we found inside the walls of the wings, rendered and whitewashed the portico and colonnade columns, re-plastered almost the entire house (which required them to put 90 tons of new plaster onto the walls using only trowels), paved the cellar kitchens and laying a one-of-a-kind clay floor in the 1764 cellar. Their expertise was always appreciated and often their knowledge of historic masonry helped us to develop solutions to some of our most complex problems. While we will miss having them around, we know that their work here will be admired for generations.
In the photo above the masons are, from left to right, Tim Proffitt, Wayne Mays, George Dempsey, Alex Hedley and Lewis Rucker. Masons Matthew Lohmeyer, Robbie Kolb, Joe Slaughter and Aaron Wieland also worked on the restoration but are not pictured.
The Rosebud Company has started to clean the floors on the second floor. So far they have cleaned the floors in M-200 (Small Bedroom), M-201 (Large Bedroom), M-207 (Old Library) and have started to clean the floors in M-212 (Southwest Chamber). To clean the floors they first run a floor buffer over the floor to remove any dirt. Next the floor is covered with a solvent and then buffed again to help remove the dissolved or softened waxes and oil stains.
The painters have been spending the mornings before the house opens sanding and painting in the rooms that are open for visitors to tour, including M-107 (entry). After the house opens for tours, they are moving to M-115, M-116 and M-117 (South Wing Passage and Closets).
A decorative painter, Farrar Woltz from Ancathe Design, has painted several samples of the graining pattern that will be used on the railing, riser and newel posts M-106 (North Passage) stair. She based her samples on a mahogany graining pattern found on a surviving fragment of the original newel post found reused in the Mansion’s framing. She used a traditional process to grain the newel that includes a base coat of paint followed by two layers of custom-mixed glazing. The first glaze is made from pigments mixed into either vinegar or beer. This layer is then covered with a second glaze made from pigments mixed in oil. A brush is next run over the glazed surface of the newel to produce the distinctive graining pattern. The final step, which is not shown in the video above, involves applying a clear varnish over the graining to protect it.
Olivier Dupont-Huin and Keith Forry continue to repair the surviving Madison-era doors.
Bill Bichell and Gene Lyman continue to install the lattice bars in the Chinese railing.
The forms for a concrete pad that will support the landing in front of the Portico steps are being installed. Embedded into the concrete will be an electrical ice-melting system that will help keep access to the mansion safe during the winter months. On top of the slab a consolidated pebble or crushed rock surface will be installed that will mimic similar surfaces that have been found archaeologically around the house.
Mason Kevin Nieto has also returned to work at Montpelier and he is currently repointing failing mortar joints
The archaeologists have started to excavate the site of what is believed to be a slave quarter. Recently they found a brass stirrup for a door lock that appears to date to the Madison-era. We are excited about this find and will use the artifact as a guide when we re-cast the stirrups for the reconstructed locks in the mansion. To find out more information on the excavation, visit the Montpelier Archaeology Blog (http://www.montpelier.org/latest_dirt/).