Historic Restoration of Antique Homes

Shirley

Restoration of the Shirley-Eustis House, Boston

I was given the opportunity to restore many of the lost interior elements of the once grand, ca1740 Shirley Eustis House in 1982. I was recommended for this work based on other fine woodworking projects which I had done in the Cape Ann & North Shore areas of Massachusetts. The house was built for Wm. Shirley, a Royal Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Later in the 1700s, some restyling was done according to the design of the renowned Boston Architect, Charles Bullfinch. I participated in recreating some of the 1740 work and some of the 1795 work. From the late 18th Century onwards the house suffered from misuse and neglect, eventually loosing much of its original interior. My commission included rebuilding walls and the cantilevered Ballroom balcony as well as recreating the fine finish woodwork in several of its rooms. Other work was subsequently done to complete other parts of the house in later years, by other craftsmen.

Restored doorway looking from Parlor into Entry Hall showing new architrave, wainscot, & shutters.
Restored doorway looking from Parlor into Entry Hall showing new architrave, wainscot, & shutters.
Restored raised panel wainscot at the other side of the doorway, in the Parlor. The entire wall was replaced.
Restored raised panel wainscot at the other side of the doorway, in the Parlor. The entire wall was replaced.
A detail of the Entry Hall side of the restored wall showing the architrave and carved chair rail. All done with period tools, of course.
A detail of the Entry Hall side of the restored wall showing the architrave and carved chair rail. All done with period tools, of course.
The final result of the restored wall and doorway from the Entry Hall side. This photo shows the unusual, but original, way in which the wall covers half of the window. The original marble floor tiles are also seen here.
The final result of the restored wall and doorway from the Entry Hall side. This photo shows the unusual, but original, way in which the wall covers half of the window. The original marble floor tiles are also seen here.
This photo shows Mike at work laying flooring on the balcony we reconstructed in the Ballroom. The condition of the interior was very deteriorated.
This photo shows Mike at work laying flooring on the balcony we reconstructed in the Ballroom. The condition of the interior was very deteriorated.
Another photo of the Ballroom balcony with the flooring in and the curved facia board in place. You can see where the balcony joins the original stairway.
Another photo of the Ballroom balcony with the flooring in and the curved facia board in place. You can see where the balcony joins the original stairway.
The final result of the restored Ballroom stair and part of the balcony with its wonderful balustrade.
The final result of the restored Ballroom stair and part of the balcony with its wonderful balustrade.
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Jonathan Hunt House Restoration

This is the Lt. Gov. Jonathan Hunt House in Vernon, Vermont. I was commissioned to provide historic architectural services including the working plans for the restoration of this antique home. The challenge of this project was in carefully reading the building-as-found, in order to find the evidence of previous features that were lost or hidden by later modifications. Next is assessing its period detail; measuring & drafting Existing Condition documents; and then drafting the working plans for restoration. The rear half of the main floor had unfortunately been stripped but sufficient evidence was discovered to establish the location of the missing original interior wall partitions & the original back stair. The three original fireplaces on the main floor were found to have been changed, with smaller fireboxes built within the originals, thankfully without damage to the original fireboxes. The later brickwork was removed, uncovering rear-wall beehive ovens in two of them. The original panel work in the front four rooms only required delicate refinishing to restore them.

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This shows the architectural restoration of Keeping Room wall surround and original Keeping Room fireplace
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Here is a closer view of the original Keeping Room fireplace showing its rear-wall Beehive oven.
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First floor view of historic replacement of missing rear stairway.
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This is the paneled wall in the North Parlor which is the one with the corner cupboard. It is the one first floor firebox with no oven. As you see it here, this is all original 'fabric'.
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Restoration woodwork in a 17th Century Home

I researched and created this fine historic woodwork early on in my career as a restoration architect. This home was built in 1690 and retained most of its original woodwork. Strangely, the main front stair had been replaced with a most unfortunate one of a common 20th Century carpenter style.

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I researched and created this fine stairway. The space below the stair was not adequate for the new mid-century cellar stairway.
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The top photo shows the lower part of the completed stairway. The whole was made of White Pine, as was typical of work of the period. This photo shows the balustrade in the second floor hall.
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This photo shows the assembled frame of the stair, structurally strong in itself. It is composed of the four posts, 3 stringers, and 3 handrails. The unit was carried into the house, set on the floor and attached to the upper floor. The wall stringers simply attached to the walls and the steps and risers fastened in place. The post caps were installed and the handrail trim. The panel walls was then made up and installed to finish the whole.
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Another image of the completed stair as one would see it about to ascend it.
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This image shows the top half of a cupboard I created to replace the unfortunate 20th century basement door. I made all the parts of this cabinet. It fits seamlessly into the original 17th Century panel wall.
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The Boynton House Restoration

This first image shows the house at a very early stage of our work. We had just begun to remove some of the board sheathing to expose the damaged structure. One can see the roof has some sagging. Its condition proved to be much worse than it looked. The twin fireplace chimneys were entirely rebuilt, using the original bricks, from the first floor fireboxes on up. We replaced damaged lath and plaster inside, preserving the original hand-split lath, and recreated the original clapboard exterior, and front doorway surround, as well as doing paint restoration.

This antique house predates the founding of the Governor's Academy in Byfield, Massachusetts as does the historic Dummer House nearby it. Both houses are part of the present Academy. The 12 over 12 light sash and the hand split lath indicate an 18th Century origin. The presence of two interior chimneys and a center hall and stair indicate a Georgian style plan. So I would classify this house in the style of Country Georgian. This house was being used as a girl's dormitory when in 1982 it was realized that it had serious structural issues. The school resolved to completely restore the historic building and to include a large modern bathroom for the girls use. This new dormitory type bathroom required a full waterproof rubber pan lining to protect the original plaster and woodwork below it from any future water damage. We succeeded in insuring this protection. Other than this modern bathroom, the house is now in original restored condition. We made extensive repairs to the original timber frame as these photos show, restoring the integrity of the front wall and the roof. This first image shows the house at a very early stage of our work. We had just begun to remove some of the board sheathing to expose the damaged structure. One can see the roof has some sagging. Its condition proved to be much worse than it looked. The twin fireplace chimneys were entirely rebuilt, using the original bricks, from the first floor fireboxes on up. We replaced damaged lath and plaster inside, preserving the original hand-split lath, and recreated the original clapboard exterior, and front doorway surround, as well as doing paint restoration.

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Another view of frame repairs to the front wall framing. The dark colored members are original, the light ones are new.
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This photo shows the extensive repairs to one small part of the frame of the front wall.
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This image shows the house after the structural restoration of the timber frame was complete. Interior work was still on going at this time. The twin chimneys, original to the house, were in the process of reconstruction.
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A detail view of the new front doorway.
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Shute Home Restoration, Newburyport, Ma.

This small, Gambrel roofed, center chimney Colonial home is located near the harbor in the historic port of Newburport. It had suffered from neglect and unfortunate modifications in the 250 years between its construction and restoration. The owner wanted, and got, an historically accurate restoration complete with antique hardware and hand planed woodwork. I was commissioned by the restoration contractor to provide complete historic architectural service. The original main house consists of one room on either side of the center chimney on each of its three floor levels. The garret had been only roughly finished, but the other four rooms each had a fireplace and originally, had paneled interior walls. The original kitchen wing had been added very early on. The plans called for new cabinetry in a simple style appropriate to the original house. The original front stair was completely rebuilt and modern bathrooms were tucked in behind the chimney. Original style 9 over 6 light sash were replicated and installed throughout. All this detail was included in the working plans for restoration.

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All the detail in this image was done in the restoration but looks perfectly original.
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Newly built front stairway
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This photo shows the fireplace wall in the restored East Parlor which was likely used as a bedroom originally.
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This photo shows the fireplace in the West Parlor. Oddly, there is no oven here either, just a sort of warming shelf with an arched opening. The woodwork is all new, made with the same tools the original would have been made with.