Friday, October 9, 2009

Historic Windows Workshop, October 24

On Saturday, October 24, from 10 am to Noon, the New Castle Community History and Archaeology Program (NCCHAP) will sponsor a workshop at the Read House on historic window repair. Workshop participants will observe the removal of historic window sashes and components such as weights and pulleys. Carpenters will discuss the repair of sashes, frames, and sills. The Read House Save America's Treasures project restoration architect will also discuss the repair of historic windows and the Read House project.

Space is limited; please call 302-322-8411 to register.

This workshop will be complemented by another workshop offered at the Amstel House focusing on the benefits of storm windows and other techniques for improving energy efficiency.

Time Flies!

Wow! It's October already, and I haven't had a post on here since August! Time to catch everyone up one what's been happening!


This is where we left our story in August. The masons arrived and pulled up all the bricks from our rear walkway, recorded their position, and began to did a few trenches for drainage pipes that will lead to the dry well.

Drain pipes that will gather water from two new downspouts at the rear of the building were installed. They convey the water to the drywell - an 7' deep hole in the backyard filled with 3" stone - where the water will safely disburse underground. After the pipes were laid, the trenches were backfilled with gravel and/or dirt. Along the side of the house, a membrane was used to line the trench to prevent any possible leak from impacting the building.

Here's a couple of pics. The first shows the empty trenches that were dug by August 19, and the second shows the trenches backfilled and the height of the pipes when they reach the dry well.

Exterior Accessibility

Once the pipes were installed, the roofers returned to install new gutters and downspouts. We now have two downspouts instead of just one at the rear of the building and the gutter has been pitched correctly so the water won't run towards the building anymore (that's a bad thing!). The gutters still need to be painted however.

Next up comes relaying the brick walk our back. But we want to create a ramp up towards the back door so that the museum will be more accessible. As I write this today, the masons are just finishing up the new walkway. Here's a few pics of what the walk looked like as of Wednesday:

At the point where the brick reaches the door, our carpenters will fashion a ramped threshhold out of mahogany or cypress to make the transition up into the museum shop area. The masons are currently working on the transition from this ramp to the patio out of frame (to the left of the bottom picture).

Interior Accessibility

Inside the building we had to make some minor modifications as well in order to allow someone that uses a wheelchair to make their way throughout the whole first floor of the building.

We added a small threshold in the doorway from the museum shop into the kitchen hallway. It is made out of salvaged antique pine and should eventually darken to match the historic flooring in the hallway. Here's a pic:

Once in the hallway, a ramp is needed to get up into the second parlor or dining room of the house. That ramp was also built from salvaged antique pine. One task still left to do is to round over the edge of the ramp where it meets the floor. Because we installed the boards parallel to the existing floorboards it's possible that someone could chip the end grain if they kick it or drag their feet.

Finally, we also had to widen the doorway into the second parlor to achieve a width of at least 32" to allow a wheelchair to manuever through the doorway. This did not require us to alter any historic fabric. The doorway had been framed in the 1970s so we just widened that 1970s era framing. Since we widened the door, a new piece of molding had to be milled for the top of the doorway to match the existing molding on the sides. The door was removed completely, tagged as to its location in the second parlor, and placed in storage. Here's what the doorway looks like now:

This doorway has been a controversial architectural feature for some time now - we weren't sure if it was original or not. When we removed the 1970s doorway framing we had a good look at the construction of the doorway. I'll describe our findings in a future post!