Restoring the George W. Washington Home
A Stately Lady Gets Restored
One of the unusual features of the George W. Washington home is the fact that the residents and some guests wrote their names in the mortor of the brick walls. This is a very unique record associated with the house and one that the restorers are trying hard to preserve. This photo shows the signature of Sallie Washington, October 4, 1897.
In this photo we see the rafters of the house around one of the many chimneys. Note the walnut header in front of the chimney. Note how it is notched into the rafter on either side of the chimney as the original was. Walnut, now an expensive wood, was used because it is relatively rot resistant. The lighter wood for the rafters and roof nailers or sheathing is fir and poplar. If you look carefully to the left of the chimney and immediately to the right and at the right edge of the photo you will see dark narrow vertical blocks inserted in the brick walls; these are the walnut outriggers that support the trough for the built-in or recessed gutters that can be seen later below.
This is a picture of the "widow's walk" around the cupula on the top of the house. From here the master of the estate could supervise work in the flat fields of the floodplain around the house. The balusters are original.
This is a new copper cap to the railing round the widow's walk. Below it one can see one of the chimneys that has been repointed and the new copper roof with the recessed gutter. Below is a detail of the chimney that is "pencilled" with a mixture of lime and rabbit's hide glue to whiten the mortar. The other detail (shown below right) is a new copper cricket that diverts rain water around the chimneys on the uphill side.
Here we see details of the unusual recessed gutter. Instead of hanging the gutter below the bottom edge of the roof, the gutter is recessed just above the gutter bottom edge. The red arrows in the top photo show the location of the gutter. The arrows in the lower photos show a joint in the gutter covered with weatherproof tape and on the left side the copper bridge on the lower roof is an expansion joint which is used because copper contracts and expands with temperature.
All the work, not only physical repair and replacement but also the administrative work of researching building details and writing grants, is being supervised by the new owners of Ridgedale, Mike and Carol Shaw who are living in temporary quarters in nearby Romney. As you can see, Mike is a "hand-on" type whose ruff look may belie his love of old houses and his extensive knowledge of their details. We wish him and his wife the best of luck with this "labor of love."
Contractors on the job include the following:
Go to Part III (October 2007)
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