Monthly Archives: March 2011

Windows and More Windows

Thanks to the citizens of Gloucester through the Community Preservation Act, Beauport is the proud recipient of $25,000 to continue the much needed window conservation work at the house.

Beauport’s windows consist of wood sash units in varying operation—fixed, casement, and double hung.  The units include wood frames that are joined by a pinned corner mortise and tenon joint and wood muntins separating individual plate glass in diamond and rectangular patterns.  The house includes over 105 window openings with 249 sash units and 10 skylights. Since 2009, approximately 200 sash have been conserved.  The goal for this final phase is to address the remaining windows that include moderate deteriorated glazing and frames and sash that are accessible only by scaffolding on the harbor elevation.

To kick off the final phase, our own Carpentry Crew started the window conservation work late this winter by removing four windows from the Pine Kitchen.  

And Sleeper (the original owner) never disappoints–every time we enter the house, we find something new and exciting.  After years and years of the Pine Kitchen windows being painted shut–and thought to be fixed– the carpentry crew removed the sash and made an interesting discovery.  On either side of the sash and frames were hardware indicating that the windows were once operable.  Tension clips were used on windows that could not accommodate a weight pocket, or were not heavy enough to need one.  The sash would be clipped onto hardware that included a small spring, which would hold the window in place when opened.  The Pine Kitchen windows would have slid into the above wall cavity approximately 6 inches allowing air circulation at the bottom.  

Unfortunately, the hardware is badly rusted and currently not operable–but it is always fun to make a new discovery on how Sleeper used the space.

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East Gardens Landscape Restoration

After years of research, planning, and data collecting, Historic New England is ready for Phase II of the Landscape Restoration project at Beauport.  Information on Phase I of the Landscape work can be accessed here.  Anyone interested in bidding on Phase II of the Landscape Restoration work should contact Jodi Black, Preservation Project Manager at 617.997.5580. 

The interpretive period for the landscape at Beauport focuses on the late 1920s through the early 1930s.  This period was selected because it best represents the original owner’s intentions (Henry Davis Sleeper), while presenting the landscape at the time Charles and Helena McCann, the second owners, were first attracted to Beauport.  With the exception of the McCann era brick wall along the road, most of the changes to the landscape composition were implemented by Historic New England over the last 70 years of ownership. 

 The landscape during the interpretation period exhibited several key features that follow a progression from a “naturalistic” style to a formal style as one traverses from the land entrance to the sea entrance at the terraces. Landscape materials used to create walls and define the ground plane change from rough stone to a more formal brick.  Plant palettes change from native plant communities to individual specimens and hybridized plant species.  Geometries change from flowing lines to rigid rectilinear lines.  Landscape spaces transition from amorphous volumes to defined garden rooms.  This progression is indicative of the arts and crafts movement in landscape and is one of the defining characteristics of Beauport. 

 Much like the house, the landscape can be divided into several distinct rooms or zones.  Each zone is comprised of specific materials and plants that define unique characters.    

Phase II of the Landscape Restoration will focus mainly on the Old Field Succession area–including the Entry Courtyard and the Second Dial Garden. 

The Old Field Succession is defined by un-honed stone walls, natural rock outcroppings, pea-gravel walks and beaten earth pathways.  Historic photographs show the gardens with multiple levels of shrubs, small trees, and clearly defined planting beds.  Included in this area is the Second Sundial Garden, which was created after Sleeper moved the sundial from the harbor side terraces to the Old Field Succession area.  The Sundial Garden creates a center spoke to the Old Field Succession area allowing a visitor to pass through five possible pathways.  Although the sundial is still there, a few of the paths are not as clearly defined as before and include overgrown shrubs and very large yew bushes.

This area will be again planted in a more naturalistic manner using native plant communities.  The restored landscape will include small birch trees, arborvitae, chokeberry shrubs, and Pennsylvania wood sedge for ground covering.  The Sundial Garden will again include a more defined geometric arrangement to sweeping pathways and will be planted with perennials in a garden-esque manner. 

 The work is scheduled for May and June 2011… stay tuned.

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