It is both exciting and sad to say that a project is complete– but after six months, 200 squares of wood shingles, 10 copper roofs, and six brick chimneys the roof work at Beauport is finally complete. And what a winter to test it! But don’t worry… there is still more to come. The projects outlined in 2011 include more window conservation (of course!), structural masonry work, and landscape repairs to the east gardens. Stay tuned!
Category Archives: Roof Replacement
This past October and November, the masons repaired the sixth and final chimney at Beauport– the Drum Chimney. We liked to say that we saved the best for last, but the masons liked to joke that it was the worst (shape) for last. It is not the most decorative of the six chimneys; it doesn’t have as many flues as the other chimneys; but it is largest of the chimneys.
The name of the Drum Chimney comes from its shape–three tiers with a series of open arches at the top and low relief arches below. There are many great features about this chimney– the base is exposed to grade on one side and a beautiful directional weathervane sits on top. The Drum Chimney has two flues–one for a large “Colonial-inspired” room called the Pine Kitchen and one for the oven in the working kitchen.
Water has been a problem at this chimney for quite some time. Staining is found on the right corner of the fireplace and many of the iron collection pieces are slowly rusting. The photo above also shows packing peanuts on the ground. These were used in the early 1990s as a way to insulate the chimney and try to minimize condensation issues. Unfortunately, this solution did not work and the peanuts were removed… although some still show up after a particularly bad storm.
During the chimney investigation, several issues were discovered. The majority of the top tier included large, open cracks and the base had several areas of spalling bricks. The flashing, like all of the other chimneys, had been installed very low. In addition, the space between the top tier and the second tier included a copper cap that was merely caulked in place. The caulk had deteriorated and the cap had pulled away from the sides, which allowed water to enter the chimney easily.
After the investigation, it was decided to rebuild the top 21 courses of brick– basically from the large crack above the bricked in arches to the top of the chimney. The directional was removed and the masons got to work…. As soon as dismantling begun, however, the chimney started to cave in and break apart. Indicating that the chimney was actually in a lot worse shape than originally hoped.
In the end, the masons had to dismantle another three feet down to the square base of the chimney and rebuild. An additional wythe was added to the interior of the second tier shaft for better stability, a new cap was installed and mounted in concrete, and the weathervane was re-installed with a longer pole to minimize the resistance from the wind, which can cause stress fractures. The arches were measured and carefully dismantled, though many bricks could not be reused.
In addition to the rebuilding of the top, the spalled bricks were replaced and the flashing was altered slightly. Similar to the other chimneys repaired, the existing flashing was left in place and new flashing was installed one to two brick courses higher. When the new roof was installed, new copper step flashing was slipped under the old lead flashing–leaving a triple-flashed chimney.
It is always sad to see a tour season end at Beauport, but the guide team dusted off the drapes and covered the chairs to close the house up for the winter. The house will re-open for tours on June 1, 2011.
But the end of the tour season does not mean work stops at the house- in fact now the carpenters have taken over the front of the house to work on the final phase of the roofing project. The work will continue through December.
Beauport began in 1907 as a ‘small’ summer cottage–roughly 12 rooms– for Henry Davis Sleeper and his mother, Maria Westcott Sleeper. As interior design commissions came in, Sleeper continued to add to the house over the next 27 years–until he virtually ran out of land.
To the north of Beauport was the Colonial Arms, a massive 300 room luxury hotel in the Greek Revival style, which blocked most of Sleeper’s northern views. Mysteriously, the entire hotel burned to the ground in 1908 and the plot sat vacant until the 1920s when Fredrick and Evelyn Hall built “Stone Acre”, a large Victorian constructed out of field stone and topped with beautiful blue-gray slate.
Sleeper continued to build to the north and constructed one of the last rooms in the house called the North Gallery in 1925. The Hall’s decided that the only way to stop Sleeper from building over their property line was to construct their own outbuilding and a large stone wall. The two buildings and stone wall lay within inches of each other– and in one section actually touch.
It’s a good story to tell but the area is actually extremely difficult to work within.
With the daunting task of a 200 square (20,000 square foot) roof, one of the biggest questions was: Where do we start?! Although the question may seem simple, the conditions of the site are complicated. The Beauport museum is open to the public on Tuesday through Saturday from June 1 through October 15— pretty much in the middle of prime construction season– and we did not want to close the site at all during the work. So, not only did the roofers have to deal with Historic New England staff but also 5000 summer visitors.
Because of the work, most of the summer programs were pushed into August and September, therefore the crew took the opportunity during the months of June and July to begin with one of the most sensitive areas–the terrace (west) elevation. Once this elevation was completed, the crew could move to the north side of the building away from the terraces during the events while also avoiding the front entrance on the east elevation where the tours begin.
The roof and masonry work is in full swing now. It is exciting to see some work completed– especially with the pesky chimneys. Beauport includes six decorative chimneys— all of which are experiencing leaks. The masons have completed two of the six chimneys and are currently prepping two others for work. This is the story of Bishop’s Cap Chimney–
The Bishop’s Cap name comes from the fact that the cap takes on the appearance of a bishop’s hat. It provides two flues for fireplaces located in the China Trade Room on the first floor and the Strawberry Hill Room on the second floor. In order to understand the issues with this chimney a thorough investigation was conducted. The interior spaces were inspected to see where and how the leaks were forming. In one of the rooms next to this chimney a significant amount of plaster work has cracked and failed indicating severe moisture infiltration. On the exterior, cracking can be seen in both the cap and the lead flashing. The scope of work for repairs included– re-parging cap; spot repointing the base; and repairs to the lead flashing.