Montpelier Restoration Update – 8/20/2008


The painters have almost finished priming M-108 (Drawing Room) and they have started to prep and prime M-109 (South Passage).They are also painting doors, windows and the stair enclosures in the cellar passages.

Jack Fisher is painting the trim in the Drawing Room with linseed-oil based paints.


Gene Lyman continues to install locks in the cellar passage doorways.

Keith Forry continues to repair original Madison-era doors.


Mark Gooch is installing the new sashes in the mansion (M-100 (North Wing Room), M-104 (Mr. Madison’s Room), M-105 (Dining Room), M-200 (Small Bedroom) and M-201 (Large Bedroom). He has already installed the reproduction brass pulleys and is pouring new lead sash weights for the windows’ weight pockets.


Blaise Gaston continues to make interior doors for the Mansion and has also made three pine interior thresholds.

Reproduction screws also continue to be turned by Paul Pyzyana at Blaise’s shop and the above video shows how modern screws are being modified to look like the surviving Madison-era screws.

M-108 (Drawing Room)

Bill Bichell has installed the compo egg and dart molding on the overdoor pediment. The above video shows Bill cutting and installing the molding. He is using hide glue and stainless steel pins to secure the molding to the overdoor pediment. An identical egg-and-dart pattern is found in the cornice of the Drawing Room and the same type of molding is also found on similar overdoor pediment at Monticello (which was also built by Dinsmore and Neilson, the carpenters who expanded Montpelier in circa 1812).

Bill has also filled the duPont-era hinge mortises on the doorway between the Drawing Room and the Entry (M-107) and repaired a small chip to one of the flutes near the top of the north pilaster.

Cellar Passages

Kevin Neito has white washed the brick jambs of the exterior doorways.


Mac Ward is treating the stringers, treads and risers of the South Wing exterior stair with zintox and then painting them with bilge paint and an alkyd primer. This is the standard treatment for reconstructed exterior wooden elements installed during the restoration.

The crushed stone bases for the new paths in the east yard continue to be compacted.

The gravel that will form the surface of the paths have also been delivered and they have started to spread them on the west yard paths. The gravels have been selected to replicate the gravels that were found by the archaeologists. Once the gravel has thoroughly dried, liquid polyurethane will be poured on top and allowed to soak in through to the base. Once the polyurethane has cured, it will form a hard, stable surface that will be close in appearance to what Madison would have seen.

Kevin Neito has started to work on a short, brick retaining wall that will adjoin the northeastern corner of the North Wing. This wall will help to define the North Work Yard and is shown on a watercolor painted in 1818.

Kevin Neito has also started to build the footers for the North Wing’s eastern stairs.


2 Responses to Montpelier Restoration Update – 8/20/2008

  1. John Leeke says:

    >>zintox and then painting them with bilge paint and an alkyd primer.<<

    Could you fill us in with more details on your exterior wood paint schedule?

    Is this based on historical paint evidence, or on modern methods and materials?

  2. John,

    Sorry for not getting back to you sooner, life is a little hectic here lately. For the exterior trim we had Dr. Susan Buck match the c1812 color (the current stone or buff color) from samples she took from surviving Madison trim. We then had the painters carefully scrape off all of the loose paint (but not aggressively so that as much of the historic paint was saved as possible) and then prime the wood. They used Sherwin Williams’ A100 exterior acrylic primer and top coated with a Sherwin Williams’ alkyd paint (“Duration” I believe) . It doesn’t look like they make the alkyd paint anymore due to VOC restrictions so we’ll probably switch to an acrylic when we paint again. We thought about using linseed oil paints for the exterior, but it was too costly for the mansion’s expected maintenance cycle. The trust was also not going to let us use white lead in the paint for liability and ecological reasons and so that would have also made the paint more unpredictable.

    Take care and let me know if you have any other questions,


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