Harborside Windows Underway

The repairs are underway at the windows located on the harbor side of the building.  Recently, Heartwood Window Restoration removed five windows on the harbor for full conservation.  Most importantly, the Master Mariner’s window–a beautiful Moorish-inspired window on the second floor.

Beauport has a vast number of rooms, mostly based on literary and historical themes.  The Master Mariner’s Room is predominated by a nautical theme shown with objects including sextants, telescopes, compasses, charts and ship’s logs, scrimshaw and other items associated with voyages to faraway ports.  The room’s name alludes to the master mariners of the past, as well as to a professional association of fishing captains, the Gloucester Master Mariners Association, whose members were often entertained there.  

Due to the location of the windows, exterior work is extremely difficult.  The rocky ledge does not allow safe placement of a ladder to reach the second floor and the roof is exceptionally steep above.  The only access is through some sort of scaffolding system— so, taking advantage of the scaffolding in place for the roof replacement project, the team sprung into action.  

 The windows were carefully removed and protected for transportation… then happily returned, fully conserved.

Existing Conditions


Conserved and Re-installed


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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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Congrats to Us!

The Harbor Elevation

On January 25th, 2011, the Gloucester City Council voted 8 to 0 to appropriate $25,000 from the Community Preservation Act funds (through the Community Preservation Committee) to provide professional conservation care for the remaining windows not yet completed at the house.  This means that we can match the CPA money with the Save America’s Treasures funds already secured and create a $50,000 project!  The money will go towards the final phase of window work at the house.  Approximately 200 windows have already been conserved… only 49 more to go!

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Roof Complete!

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!

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Drum Chimney Repaired

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 Drum Chimney before work

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 staining at the fireplace

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. 

Existing conditions

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. 

Area of rebuilding

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.      

The rebuilding from the base up

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. 

Additional work at the chimney

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.


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Winter Morning at Beauport

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