Restoration Update – 9/11/2008 to 9/24/2008

A Photo of the Finished West Façade

Even though the carpenters are still hard at work hanging doors, installing locks, building decks and, soon, hanging shutters, the restoration of Montpelier is drawing to a close. Next week I will post photos of some of the finished rooms and exteriors. Montpelier is particularly beautiful in the fall (you can see a wide expanse of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the front Portico), and if you have not been to the estate in awhile (or if you have never been), now is a great time to visit. The Montpelier Foundation is also planning to continue updating this ‘blog as the main focus of the restoration turns to refurnishing the interior of the mansion, but we will also continue to publish updates on the architectural restoration until has been finished.

Painting

The painters have primed all of the fence pickets green and painted the fence posts white. A solid body stain is being used for both the pickets and the posts. Currently the painters are working on priming and painting the reconstructed shutters.

Doors

Gene Lyman continues to install locks in the original and reconstructed doors. Blacksmith and brass founder Kevin Clancy was back on-site the day before the grand opening to install the reproduction brass door knobs and escutcheons on the exterior doors. Kevin stayed late on Tuesday night to finish the doors and we are all very appreciative of the incomparable reproduction hardware he has made for the Mansion.

Keith Forry continues to repair the original Madison doors that were found during the restoration.

Carpeting

Luther from the Ceiling and Floor Shop in Charlottesville finished carpeting the rooms in the house that will be open for tours. He will move on to the remaining rooms in the South Wing after M-118 (South Wing Room) has been cleared of tools.

Exterior

Approximately ½ of the rear lawn has been sodded and the other half has been seeded.

Vintage Metal Work from Delaware has installed the railings going down to the wing cellars and Steve Stokes from Stokes of England (based in Keswick and Gordonsville, VA) has installed the wrought iron railings on the Portico.

Olivier Dupont-Huin finished the steps leading to the colonnade just in time for the grand opening.

Almost all of the rails and pickets for the west yard fence were installed before the grand opening. Mortises were cut into each post for the top and bottom rails. The top rails, which are curved, were particularly challenging to cut and a router jig was built to speed up the process. For the bottom rail mortises, a circular saw first cut away some of the wood and then a chisel was used to remove the remaining material. Reproduction double-struck, machine-cut nails, based on circa 1812 examples found in Mansion and by the archaeologists when they excavated the original fence, were used to secure the rails to the posts. The blacksmiths at Ball and Ball, Inc made the nails.

After the rails were installed, the pickets, or pales as they were called in Madison’s time, were nailed to the rails. Another jig, built by Bill Bichell, was used to space the pickets correctly and to hold them in place as they were secured with stainless steel nails. Currently Mac Ward is finishing off the fence by nailing the final double-struck, machine-cut nails into the pickets. The finished fence’s color scheme of white posts and green pickets/rails is also based on an 1818 water color made by the Baroness Anne de Neuville. Additional information on how the fence color was chosen can be found on this site (click here).

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