preservation & restoration
Preservation and restoration are closely intertwined disciplines. The goal is always to preserve and conserve original fabric and detail as part of the historic record. Much of what architects, preservation / restoration contractors, and homeowners decide is based on the extant physical record. Where preservation of materials and details is not feasible, restoration and duplication come into play. Owners of historic properties are really guardians or caretakers. Those of us in the field owe a responsibility certainly to the owner, but an equal responsibility to the structure lest some of its integrity is lost.
Disassembly & moving
One method of preserving a building is to move it from one site to another. This process involves painstaking documentation and labeling of each piece so that it can be reassembled at its destination. The Performing Arts Barn at Roger Williams University was one such project. At far right, a small post-and-beam Gambrel was disassembled.
With any structural system, whether post and beam or stick built (conventional studs and framing), failure of elements can occur over time. When this happens, non-structural elements take on some of the load-bearing typically isolated to the framing. It is important to hire people who understand this and have "an old house soul". It is also helpful to note that in spite of appearances, sometimes older structures have weathered a lot of severe storms and withstood the test of time in spite of their construction not being up to current building codes. This does not necessarily find them lacking.
the willett free library
This small neighborhood library (1903) required modifications to its floor plan in order to facilitate lectures and film showings as well as make the entire structure handicap accessible. Two small ells were removed, the footprint squared up, historic details either preserved or recreated. The working fireplace was brought into code compliance, chimney top rebuilt, some windows restored, and new handicap ramp and back porch added. New HVAC systems, handicap bathroom, kitchenette, computer stations, and librarian's work center, moveable stacks, projector and sound systems fitted. This project won honors from Preserve Rhode Island.
Broadwall Farm (1775) is a working farm in rural Rhode Island where thoroughbred horses and beef cattle are raised. Originally hired to evaluate the systems and overall condition of the house, we were then hired to do the work. New copper roof, clapboards, window restoration, elimination of nonconforming elements, new additions, conversion of the heating system from steam to hot water utilizing existing radiators and piping, new kitchen with fireplace, new master bathroom, office and vestibule with antiqued stone floor, new electrical system, plaster and paint as necessary inside and out, numerous other details. When we discovered original wall stenciling, we worked with Historic Preservation students from Roger Williams University to undergo a thorough evaluation, eventually preserving the stencils on one wall and reproducing it on adjoining walls.