Investigations in the Drawing Room

August 31, 2009

In the Drawing Room

Last week, Susan Buck, Architectural Finishes Conservator, visited Montpelier to continue work on two ongoing projects in the drawing room (M108): the search for curtain hanging evidence and the hunt for clues about the original wallpaper.

Small wooden markers show the depth and angle of nails holes, which might have been used to secure drapery hardware.

Small wooden markers show the depth and angle of nail holes, which might have been used to secure drapery hardware.

The search for evidence of how curtains were displayed:

 One Madison era visitor mentioned the windows in the drawing room were “hung with light silken drapery.”[1] But, how were the curtains suspended and what design did the Madisons choose?

To learn as much as possible about the drawing room curtains, we are searching for physical clues for drapery hardware. Having already eliminated the premise that the Madisons had cornices above the windows because no physical evidence survives, Dr. Buck performed additional forensic work to see whether wooden laths were nailed directly to the top of the window frame to hold the window treatments. Read the rest of this entry »


Shutters Update April 29, 2009

April 29, 2009

The restoration crew has started to hang shutters on the exterior of the house.

Rear of the house, from the Architectural Record, Vol VI (July 1896-June 1897).

Rear of the house, from the Architectural Record, Vol VI (July 1896-June 1897).

The shutters are modern reproductions based on Madison-era shutters found in a barn here on the property. There were 31 shutters found in the barn, 12 for the second floor and 19 for the first. They retained their original paint coating, a green made from verdigris pigment, which is made from weathered copper. We’ve painted the reproduction shutters the same green, basing the coloring on research by Dr. Susan Buck (see this post for a picture of the process) Read the rest of this entry »


Update

December 10, 2008

Doors

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Mac Ward is installing the door jambs in the cellar.

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Gene Lyman continues to install door hinges and locks.

Exterior

Blaise Gaston and Paul Pyzyana are painting the North Wing’s eastern stoop and stair

Montpelier Restoration, Dercember 8, 2008

Bill Bichell is driving and clenching the wrought nails into the heart-pine lattice that will go under the portico deck. Clenching nails, or hammering the projecting end of a nail back against a piece of wood, is common method of insuring a nail would stay securely in place and has been used for centuries if not longer.

Millwork

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Blaise Gaston and Paul Pyzyana are getting ready to make the transoms for the wing doorways. The muntins in the transoms are bent into an incredibly complex design and the picture below shows some of the approximately 160 pieces that will make up the shaper templates Blaise is going to use to build the transoms.


Montpelier Restoration Update – 11/26/2008 and 12/3/2008

December 3, 2008

Doors

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Mac Ward continues to hang doors on the second floor.  In the photos above he is trimming the edge of one of the doors prior to installation.  The metal guide helps to ensure the circular saw stays straight through the entire length of the cut.

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Gene Lyman continues to install door hinges and locks.  Gene has also installed the pine threshold for the doorway that leads out to the Colonnade deck.  Physical evidence for this very wide (15”) threshold was found on the surviving Madison-era flooring.

Montpelier Restoration, November 25, 2008

Keith Forrey continues to install the doors in the cellar.  In the photos he is installing a wrought-iron “H-L” hinge on the door to a closet in the 1797 cellar.

Montpelier Restoration, December 1, 2008

A latch-lock was also installed on the eastern door in M-109 (South Passage).  This spring-loaded lock is something of an intermediate step between the more common Norfolk latches and the more complex rim locks.  The odd handles, called stirrups or axe-head handles, are based on multiple examples found on surviving locks or archaeologically.  While these handles look unusual when compared to modern knobs, they were actually very common in the 18th and early-19th centuries.

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Exterior

Montpelier Restoration, November 25, 2008 Montpelier Restoration, December 1, 2008

Blaise Gaston and Paul Pyzyana are installing the North Wing’s eastern stoop and stair


Montpelier Restoration Update – 11/20/2008

November 20, 2008

Doors


Mac Ward continues to hang doors on the second floor.

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Keith Forry is finishing the repairs to the original Madison doors.

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Gene Lyman continues to install mortise locks on the doors and Bill Bichell is installing hinges and the recreated c. 1764 screws for the reproduction c. 1764 H-L hinges.

Windows

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Joe Doody continues to install the interior storm windows in the Mansion.

Millwork

Blaise Gaston and Paul Pyzyana are painting the North Wing’s eastern stoop and stair, milling transoms and making a 15” threshold for the Colonnade deck door.

Colonnade

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Bill Bichell is cutting holes and installing braces for the wrought-iron colonnade deck railings.


Montpelier Restoration Update – 11/12/2008

November 12, 2008

Doors

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Mac Ward continues to install weather stripping on the door frames.

Keith Forry has finished installing the cellar door jambs in the 1797 cellar and has started to install the reconstructed jambs in the c. 1764 cellar.

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Gene Lyman continues to install mortise locks on the doors.  He has also re-installed the door to M-206 (Restoration exhibit room) using wrought-iron H-L hinges.  While the name “H-L” may sound strange, it actually relates to the letters formed by the shape of the hinge.

Bill Bichell continues to work on the cellar passage doors.

Windows

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Joe Doody is installing the interior storm windows in the Mansion.  The storm windows, which were manufactured by Allied Window, Inc, are primarily intended to make maintaining the climate in the Mansion easier and keep condensation from forming on the historic window sashes.  However, the storm windows will also help to reduce the amount of ultraviolet light that enters the mansion.  UV light can cause fabrics and furniture to fade and even deteriorate over time, so it is vital for historic house museums to keep as much UV light out of their houses as possible.  To control UV light at Montpelier, we elected to use laminated glass in our interior storm windows.  By using the laminated glass (two thin sheets held together with a thin layer of plastic), we will be able to block 99% of transmitted UV light from entering the Mansion.  Eventually, when furnishings are placed in the Mansion, we will also install tinted window film on the windows to reduce the amount of light and heat that is transmitted through the windows.  The heat and light energy found in sunlight also degrades fabrics and furnishings and having the films will be a vital tool for protecting the collections.

Thin magnetic strips mounted to the window stops are used to hold the storm windows in place.  Each storm window is custom made to fit the subtle variations found in the windows throughout the mansion.  A tool called a glass-cup is being used to mount the windows in the frames.  The glass-cups are basically two suction cuts mounted to a handle that allow the windows to be carefully placed into the frame.

Garrett

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Keith has also started building a cowl or hood for the lunette window.  The cowl is needed to keep rain from blowing into the garret when the window is opened in the summer to ventilate the attic.  When the window is open it will lean against the cowl to form a watertight seal.  The interior of the cowl will also be coated with epoxy and then caulked and painted to keep it water tight.

Millwork

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Blaise Gaston and Paul Pyzyana have finished milling and assembling the stairs and stoop for the North Wing’s eastern exterior door.  They are currently painting the stairs and stoop and will hopefully be installing it next week.


Montpelier Restoration Update – 11/5/2008

November 5, 2008

Doors

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Mac Ward is installing weather stripping around the door stops. We are using a non-invasive weather stripping that does not require us to damage or cut into the historic door frames. To install the weather stripping Mac cuts a piece of white rubber tubing to the length needed. After cleaning the tube and the door frame to ensure a secure bond, he then runs a bead of industrial-strength silicon caulking at the junction of the door frame and the door stop. Next Mac beds the tube into the silicon bead and finally he runs a disk roller over the tube to ensure that it has been firmly seated.

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Keith Forry has started to install the cellar door jambs. The above photo shows Keith installing one of the jambs in M-003 (Storage) in the 1797 section of the cellar. Keith has also started to hang the cellar doors, including the original Madison doors recovered during the restoration.

Gene Lyman continues to install mortise locks on the doors.

Windows

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Mark Gooch has cut the eccentrically shaped glass panes for the cellar kitchen windows. To cut the panes he carefully outlines the shape of pane on a larger piece of glass laid over the sash. Next he scores the outline with a glass cutter. Finally, he breaks off the excess glass by gently tapping near the score lines.

Millwork

Blaise Gaston and Paul Pyzyana have finished making all of the doors for the cellars as well as the gates for the West Yard fence.