This blog goes dark when it’s sunniest. Seems like every day this summer has been a good day to be working outside. We’re installing the last repairs to the undercarriage at East Derry First Parish Church, installing electricity for the clock at Hampton Town Clock Tower, waiting for the last of the ceiling to be removed at the Winter St Church in Bath and finally hanging exterior trim at Wood Island. They’re all big jobs, with little updates.
The First Parish Church is the biggest, heaviest building that we’ve ever lifted (thanks to Rick Geddes of Geddes Building Movers). The building was estimated at 188 tons, but actually weighs 288 tons. For the first time in PTF history, we bent a lifting bracket, as well as the shaft on a hydraulic jack (which is why we always use redundant rigging, and shim hard to ground). “It’s been quite a challenge,” says job lead Brian Cox. A poorly conceived connecting ell was dumping water and moisture onto the historic meetinghouse, resulting in a nearly complete undercarriage replacement. Almost a year ago, we removed the steeple from the building and placed it on the front lawn to await repairs. In the early spring, the building was lifted, a new 4’ basement was excavated and concrete foundation poured. In May, the church was lowered onto its new foundation. Throughout the summer, Brian Cox, Dan Boyle, Seth Richard and Kirk Hennequin have been working diligently to replace any rotten girts and floor joists. Paul Lindemann on the restoration committee has kept a thorough blog to document their process and progress, and the building’s history. Read more here.
The small Northern contingent of Lee, Jake, Scott, Seth and Jess built the Hampton Town Clock Tower this Spring and Summer. The standalone clock tower is building-sized display case for Hampton’s historic Howard round top tower clock. The 8-day clock, with dials that read “M E M O R I A L G I F T” instead of numerals, was given to the town in 1897 and ticking in the Odd Fellows Block until the building was destroyed by fire in 1990. The building is a design departure for PTF, as it references the Odd Fellows Tower, but does not replicate it. The four gable roof, topped with a “witch’s hat” spire, and four corner pent roofs was taken from the original building. Below, the body of the building is much simpler than the Odd Fellows tower. The 10’ arched windows reference the original arches, but the elaborate corner trim was eliminated, allowing the historic clockworks to take center stage. The clock will stand on a low lofted floor above the bell, making the clockworks accessible to its civic owners for the first time in history. Phil D’Avanza is completing repairs on the clock, and Skip Heal, of Northeast lantern, donated an enormous reproduction of the original weathervane. Read more about history of this clock, from installation, through destruction, disappearance and ultimate restoration.
In August 2015, high winds shook loose nearly a third of the coved ceiling at the Winter Street Center in Bath, ME. Enormous swaths of plaster and lath crashed onto the pews, and hung loosely from the trusses. Remediating and repairing the 26’ high ceilings posed a unique challenge. The sanctuary needed to be cleaned of hazardous debris, and the rest of the dangling plaster needed to be removed. Following the removal, Sagadahoc Preservation will need to raise the funds to make necessary truss repairs and ultimately reinstall the ceiling. The process is expected to take years, and a lot of staging. Given the original timber framed floor framing, with large, widely spaced girts and joists, and the time-span of the project, it made more sense to build a timber-framed deck 13’ above the floor, and cantilevered over the balcony. The deck is perfectly flat, and allows EnviroVantage to safely remove the ceiling where it is 6’ above the deck at the eaves, and from rolling baker’s staging at the center of the room. The timber deck even allows Sagadahoc to continue to use and show the sanctuary as they fundraise for the next phase. Jake Imlay wrote a great post describing the building and our approach there. Coming soon.
The restoration of the Wood Island Life Saving Station, in Kittery Harbor, has had Arron and his salty crew of Tom, Dave, Jake, Tim, Scott, Jess, Gail and Kendall up to their armpits in work. The life saving station was built in 1908 for the U.S. life saving service and became part of the coast guard in 1915. The U.S. Navy used the site to defend Portsmouth Naval Shipyard against U-Boats during World War II. Since the early 1950’s, the life saving station has been unused. Although the island is a popular destination for kayakers launching at Fort Foster, the building fell into dangerous disrepair, with radiators dropping through the floors. The Wood Island Life Saving Station Association applied for National Register status based on the building’s historic significance, and the integrity of the original interior trim and cabinetry. Over the summer, the intrepid crew rebuilt the boathouse, porches and dormers. As ever, sheathing repairs revealed more extensive rot than expected, but we’re finally finished with taking things away, and can focus on rebuilding. This week, we commenced with hanging reproduction trim milled right in our shop in Berwick. I’ve worked in wind like that on one other job-site: Mount Washington. We hope to have the building roofed by the end of September, which will mark the completion of phase one. And we’ve had some good press, from the Portland Press Herald to the Associated Press. Read more here.
As much as we’ve enjoyed these projects, we’re looking forward to Fall, continuing repairs at the Abyssinian Meetinghouse and Troy Union Church and commencing work at the New Harbor Methodist Church, among others. When it rains, check back for more.