2023 has been a year of preservation triumphs and challenges and the doubling of our preservation team (welcome Seth!). Here are our top five preservation moments, in no particular order.
1. The discovery of decorative painting at the frieze in the entry hall
Before determining the best path forward in addressing the areas of damaged plaster in the entry hall we wanted to determine if, as suggested in a 2002 paint analysis, there was decorative painting at the frieze.
Indeed there was!
The painting was revealed after our Director of Preservation did an exposure, a very slow process of carefully removing all the layers of paint until you get to the layer you are looking for. In this case it was approximately twenty-three layers!
At this point, the decorative painting is a bit of a mystery but most likely dates to when George Riggs lived here between 1842-1851. We will be expanding that exposure in 2024 so stay tuned!
2. Interior basement removal and repointing
To address deteriorated mortar in the largest Cottage basement room and create a clean and safe place to establish a workshop for future preservation and restoration efforts, we brought in a masonry contractor to remove all the lead paint and repoint all of the mortar joints.
3. New Preservation Department staff member!
We hired Seth Young, our first Historic Buildings & Grounds Technician in May. Seth is integral to the stewardship of the Cottage and Visitor Center. He also tends to the landscape and flower beds around both buildings. Welcome to the team Seth!
4. Exterior brickwork on the 1848 west wing
After completing their work in the basement, the masons moved to the exterior west wing of the Cottage that was constructed in 1848. To mitigate water intrusion, a trench was dug 30” deep along the entire perimeter and all the below-grade brickwork was repointed. The brickwork above grade was then stripped of its modern paint, spot repointed, and recoated with a mineral paint that will allow for the natural movement of water vapor through the brick. It was discovered that originally the brick was coated with limewash which did allow water vapor to pass through. At some point, in the mid-20th century, a modern paint was applied that prohibited the movement of water vapor and hastened the deterioration of the mortar joints.
5. Preservation of the Cottage sash (Windows!)
It has been almost twenty years since all the Cottage sash was restored during the Capital campaign. The ongoing care of the sash is part of our cyclical maintenance plan, but they are due for a more thorough treatment. With guidance from our Director of Preservation, our new Historic Buildings & Grounds Technician has begun the effort to remove, assess, repair, repaint and reinstall all the Cottage sash. We will keep you posted on the progress as this work continues through 2024!