Planning for the window conservation project began in 2006 with a conditions survey and initial needs assessments of the property funded by the Getty Foundation. The survey, by Integrated Conservation Resources, was first conducted during the sub-freezing temperature days in February, immediately following a severe snowfall that blanketed the New England area. The climatic conditions produced snow deposits in the house on the survey days, allowing an unexpected visual aid to locate points of moisture entry. The findings of the assessment and survey clearly showed the vulnerabilities in the Beauport armor and solving the moisture penetration issues through the exterior envelope became the primary focus of the conservation project.
With funding from the Save America’s Treasures program and a grant specifically for the conservation of windows from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (Massachusetts Historical Commission), Historic New England was able to start the first of several ongoing projects to mitigate points of water penetration, repair structural abnormalities and tighten the overall exterior envelope. However, due to the complexity of the structure and the vast number of sash units at the house (249 sash units), the funds could not cover the full conservation of every window at Beauport. Therefore, a detailed scope of work was required to identify the most deteriorated windows and determine project phases.
Following a survey from the Historic New England Carpentry Crew, a detailed list was identified of window units that required advanced care due to deterioration. Many window components were defective including the wood joinery at the bottom rail and side stiles. The glazing putty had lost is elasticity, resulting in chipped and cracked glazing that allowed water to penetrate between the interface of the wood and glass. The majority of the severely deteriorated windows were located on the harbor elevation of the house as well as such iconic windows as the Gothic sash in the Chapel Chamber (Paul Revere Room) and the pseudo-Palladian window of the Shelley Room. Many of the remaining windows were noted in the assessment as requiring care in the form of minor conservation work, glazing, sill repairs, and a finish coat of paint.
The work began in November 2008 and involved the in-house Carpentry Crew and two additional contractors: Heartwood Building and Restoration and Cousins Contracting. Approximately 95 individual sash units were removed from the building and completely restored in a workshop by trained carpenters. An additonal 41 sash units were surface glazed and repainted in place. Now we only have 113 more to go…
Come and visit us! http://www.historicnewengland.org/
If you would like to make a matching contribution so that we can continue the much needed work at the house, please contact Development@HistoricNewEngland.org or call 617-227-3957, ext. 247.