On the weekend of May 19-20, Historic Hudson participated in NY Heritage weekend http://www.heritageweekend.org Guided tours of the Dr. Oliver Bronson House were offered on both days, highlighting all of the important restoration work completed during Phase I. In all, about 200 people visited the house. I should know, I was one of the tour guides. I met lots of interesting people and did lots of talking.
In addition to seeing the progress of the restoration, many visitors used the opportunity to take photographs. Ghent-based professional photographer Michael Fredericks michaelfredericks.com took this great shot lying on his back in the first floor hall floor using a very wide-angle lens. Everything in the service of his art – Thanks Michael.
Up until early September, you had to be very careful in this room. One false step and you would end up in the basement. But thanks to the efforts of Jesse Tuttle and company, who rebuilt/reinforced the framing below and patched in the flooring, visitors to the house can walk around the room without a trip to the emergency room.
The reason the house is standing taller and the roof planes are cutting cleaner is that there have been a lot of structural repairs underneath the hood. Where possible, Jesse and his team have tried to “sister” onto the existing framing, providing new wood on either side of the two hundred-year-old original timbers (I guess they are some “brothers” in there as well). Below are some examples from the NE Federal Dining Room bay:
In early August, we watched with horror as the study wall literally began to disappear as we began exposing the sheathing. Years of unchecked water infiltration had completely destroyed the integrity of the sheathing and framing, so where it existed at all, it crumbled to the touch. So, it was a good thing to see a solid replacement it its place last weekend, awaiting the return of its window sash (sorry still need some work on the jambs and sill).
Until then, we are looking at plywood (keeps the critters out).
The number one priority of the Phase I restoration work was to put a sound roof over the house. The new black EPDM roof presents a strong contrast to the rusty, alligatored, and puckered skin of its predecessor. As you can see below, the roof planes are now clean and straight, allowing water to easily run off the roof rather than puddle up and work their way into the building interior. The chimney bases have been boxed in and flashed in preparation for their reconstruction in later restoration phases. In a future phase of restoration, this temporary roof surface will be replaced with a new coated copper roof.
In contrast the matte black of the roofing membrane, the shiny galvanized gutter systems and copper flashing jump out at you A little bling is not necessarily a bad thing…
Was able to visit the house last weekend and see all of the progress made by the team in the last month or so. A lot has happened since I last reported in. No more gaping holes in the roof to observe the heavens (see my last post), no more rotten sill and roof plates that were only usable as garden mulch, and, yes, we now actually have a wall in the study. It’s been quite the journey since this work glove arrived, brand new on the job site in mid-July.
The cumulative impact of all of Tuttle Construction’s hard work is immediately visible as you approach the house. The house stands straighter, and prouder.
In the last couple of weeks of August, we saw a lot of sky. Too much actually. And the somewhat alarming site of a head or a hand emerging from the roof:
But it was all for a good cause. Before we could start putting down new roofing, we had to repair the rotten sections of rafters and plates.
One of the worst areas was the transition between the 1812 house and the 1849 Davis addition. In order to provide wide-ranging (western) river views in the new section of the house, the architect placed the chimney stacks on the east wall of the new addition. While this provided attractive room layouts, it also resulted in the new chimney stacks being placed squarely within the roof valleys dividing the old and new sections of the house (see second photo from top for location).
So aesthetics were preserved but functionality lost out. Water inevitably built up behind the chimneys, got inside, and rotted the framing below. This problem was compounded by the awkward way the carpenters interpreted the architect’s instructions. Rather than reframe the old section to match the new, they simply left the old Federal hip rafter in place and put some boards on top to “cob” the two sections together.
Jesse and the team worked methodically to repair each of these problem areas, patching in new material to provide a strong base for the new roof (and keeping things covered up during the frequent rain squalls):