I was so excited to be asked to come back to Stratford Hall as an intern after attending a summer field school earlier this year. Having recently completed my Preservation studies at Belmont Technical College in St. Clairesville, OH, this internship has been a great way for me to transition from schooling to more hands-on work...and there is no shortage of hands-on work to do at Stratford Hall!
Coming from a trades-based preservation program, I have been able to easily step into the day-to-day stride around here. We have already worked through a sizable laundry list of projects in the Southwest outbuilding. So as not to repeat too much of Phil's recent update, I'll just touch on the highlights.
After what seems like weeks and weeks of scraping, sanding and patching, we are now completing first and second coats of whitewash and paint in both the main room and paneled room. Phil really has a flair for paint and it has been great hearing his take on the current options to choose from when dealing with historic finishes in a modern market. With the current downfall of oil paint options, preservationists are now looking to new latex paint products offering the same results and consistency that oil paint has historically had. We are both eager to see how they hold up over time.
We are also pleased to report that the SW outbuilding now has all its windows restored and in place! That's quite an achievement around here, as it has been some time since they were last all in. The 16 over 16 pane window sashes are quite a time-consuming project to tackle when doing a total restoration. After a fresh coat of paint on the exterior window and door frames, the old building is really looking great!
The other exciting project has been the rebuilding of the Northwest stair passage in the Great House. The framework is really coming along nicely and it has been a real treat to watch Chuck Rackley and his crew work. We have been photo-documenting their progress as the main supports are going in and the rough appearance of stairs is now taking shape. There is still a long way to go, but everyone around here is buzzing with anticipation now that work has started.
Lastly, Phil and I completed a preliminary conditions assessment of the two slave cabins in front of the Great House in order to work up an estimate for their stabilization. After taking measurements, photos, and materials samples, the main concerns tend to include window refinishing and masonry crack monitoring/repair. We gathered some samples from the current whitewash that is covering the interior masonry to try and determine its composition. After putting the samples through several solvent tests, it was determined that it may indeed be a lime-based whitewash rather than an oil or latex-based product.
Don't worry, its not all work around here, though. Kat, the collections intern, and I, have had some chances to get out and take in the pretty fall weather. Stratford Hall is so lovely this time of year that a long walk down to the beach, or a hike around the pond is always in order. We also had the chance to attend Montross's Fall Festival...munching on corndogs and bbq as we went and taking along a delicious cake from a bake sale. Speaking of food, we have been putting our little hotplate in our cabin through its paces by cooking up a storm during the weekend and taking over the director's house kitchen for more rigorous recipies.
Well, look for more updates as we go, as there is plenty going on here at Stratford Hall!
~Michelle Morrison, Fall Preservation & Restoration Intern