Mastering the Mariner’s Window

Master Mariner Writing NicheAdded to the house in 1925, Beauport’s Master Mariner’s Room served as Henry Sleeper’s private maritime museum.  The room is filled with celestial navigating instruments, newspapers dating to the War of 1812, scrimshaw, folk art toys and carvings, and a sepia-ink whaling log.  The room was named in tribute to the Gloucester Master Mariners Association and the over 5,000 men who have been lost at sea sailing out of Gloucester.  

While not as striking as the Taj Mahal style window that faces the harbor, the small eliptical window that provides light for a small writing niche was in need of rehabilitation and was thus included in Phase I of the Window Conservation Project as funded by the Save America’s Treasures program and a grant from the Preservation Projects Fund through the Massachusetts Historical Commission.  

Interior Conditions

The window’s interior finish had suffered from the microclimate associated with the ultraviolet plexiglass protection panel.  Once removed, one could flick off much of the interior paint with a fingernail.  The window’s exterior had suffered from the southern exposure and the ocassional snow drifts piled in front.  While the glazing condition wasn’t as bad as seen on other windows, the fact that structural repairs were required meant that all the glazing and glass had to be removed.

The window frame was made of four sections, joined at the sides with screws and the top and bottom with a bolt.  Only the top bolt survived the weather – the rest of the hardware was severely rusted and had caused significant damage to the wood frame, leaving a gap of almost 1/4″ at the bottom and about 1/8″ of inch at the sides.  These gaps allowed moisture to enter the space.  

Bottom Joint As Found

Due to the amount of damage, splice repairs had to be made at Bottom Joint Repairedone side joint and the bottom joint.  Rather than invite future failure by repeating the use of ferrous hardware at this joint, a a traditional technique of the  hammer-headed key joint was employed.  The key was fashioned from quartersawn white oak and wedged to create a tight joint that is guaranteed not to rust!  


Before and After

If you would like to make a matching contribution to the Save America’s Treasures grant so that we can continue the much needed work at the house, please contact Development@HistoricNewEngland.org or call 617-227-3957, ext. 247.

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1 Comment

Filed under Window Restoration

One response to “Mastering the Mariner’s Window

  1. Linda Black

    I am really enjoying this blog. Keep up the good work.

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