2014 Front Room Ceiling Removal

  • The Whittlesey House was substantially remodeled in the 1940’s. The plaster ceiling in the front room was added at that time. The plaster is a horse-hair plaster on wood lath. It is failing, in places it has failed. This project will remove the plaster and lath, restoring the original (1903) character to the room.
  • The painting on the plaster was added by Pollie Holland in the mid-1990’s. At the time, some of our members hated it, over time it has become a respected and loved part of the front room. Sorry Pollie but your great work will be gone soon. Thanks for your great efforts though, the painting really was a plus for the character of the front room. On a personal note, I would love to see you and Maurice again, even better if you would consider moving back to Albuquerque when you finish memorizing the Caribbean.
  • This, and the following few pictures are what was in place prior to removing in the January 2014 project.
  • Immediately prior to removing the ceiling, the art committee (Kouri) embarked on a project to add art to the ceiling that would be destroyed along with the ceiling. This is part of an international art project, NSK STATE DACHA
  • The furniture was removed from the front room, the walls and floor were tarped with plastic, plywood was laid on the plastic on the floor to protect the floor from falling debris, we were ready to go.
  • One of the workers starts tearing out the ceiling at the north end. The plaster is very fragile and crumbles easily.
  • The work is well underway.
  • It looks like a crappy picture, that is really dust in the air. Notice all the workers wearing hard hats, dust masks, and goggles.
  • The two north end panels are removed except for the sides which is what the plastic tarping is taped to. There are no pictures because the photographer was up in the ceiling. All the existing electric was removed.
  • Finally, the edges of the plaster were removed and the tarps were taken down.
  • The ties on the two sides of the fireplace are not original. They are loosely set on the framing to support the 2X4’s that supported the plaster lath. These ties were not even nailed to the framing. They will be removed.
  • The front room is mostly cleaned up, We will have a guy vacuuming the walls and ceiling tomorrow. The original character of the front room has been restored. The king posts at the two trusses are pretty cool.
  • Now we must clean, and clean, and clean. We are vacuuming every board on the ceiling, every viga, each truss, and each board on the walls.
  • A view of our fireplace that hasn’t been seen in 70 years.
  • We will need to get windows made up for the north gable end. We need to get some matching stain for the deck boards that were replaced. We need to touch up paint the black lower cords on the trusses. BUT, it’s looking great. Over the next few days Jonathan and Thom will be installing the lighting. For the time being we will probably re-install the two chandeliers we removed.
  • We have removed the extraneous plaster ceiling supports and vacuumed every board on the ceiling, every board on the walls, the horizontal cross-ties/beams and the truss king-posts. One man, 4 days with a vacuum cleaner.
  • Loose Ends: Finished, but not quite. This project spawned some additional work, future projects. Some of those projects must be done soon, some can, or must wait a little while. Painting: We added Fascia in a few places because we thickened the roof to accommodate the insulation we added to the roof top. The back side of that fascia, where it is exposed below the roof edge, must be primed then, the fascia must be painted. It will be dark brown. We also replaced several windows with new ones constructed to match the existing ones. These wood windows need to be primed and painted. Will be done when the weather warms. Staining: We replaced the lower deck board at the entire perimeter. In addition we replaced damaged decking throughout the building. Looking up from below while on the porch or the front room one sees new white boards among the brown stained boards. These will be stained to match. The ones that are outside must wait till the weather warms. Siding: We removed substantial portions of siding around the roof areas of the upper story. This would be siding on the South side of the board room and the South and East side of the new office area. These areas are not visible from the ground, they are above the bar area. After insulating, we sheathed the walls with plywood then added proper flashings prior to roofing. We need to add finished siding to these areas then paint the siding. The log siding we removed was deteriorated to the point that it was not re-useable. Because replacement log siding is precious and because this area is not visible, we will use standard siding. We did remove and replace the siding facing north on the card-room. This siding is visible. It was replaced with new log siding. Sealing at the fireplace chimney: Properly flashing a stone chimney is difficult, this chimney was never properly flashed. Flashing a basalt (lava) stone chimney is virtually impossible after it has been constructed. We installed flashings then foamed the area between the flashing and the rough stone chimney. This is a temporary seal but, when the weather warms we will need to seal over this foam, from the stone to the flashing with an elastomeric coating. Porch foundations: When we removed the old office to restore the front porch we discovered how bad the foundation problem was on the foundations supporting the porch above the lower porch at the rear patio really was. The porch had actually dropped about 8″. This needs immediate attention. This is now a separate project. Porch floor at the restored porch area: The front porch was re-floored in the 1940’s at the time the NW corner of the porch was enclosed. The floor of the enclosed area was leveled (the porch was built with a drainage slope) then re-floored at a higher elevation. That leveling and raising was removed but, we now need to extend the existing porch finish through this area by adding a layer of softwood flooring. This is a separate project that will be completed this spring (We hope). Front Room: The front room ceiling, failing horse-hair plaster, was installed in the 1940’s. It hid the original character of the front room. The historic survey, completed in 1995, calls for the removal of this ceiling and the restoration of the original character of the front room. Now that the ceiling is insulated we can do this. This will be done as a separate project. Evaporative Coolers: The coolers were removed to accommodate the re-roof project. All 3 of the coolers were past their life-expectancy, they were rusting hulks. Those coolers were thrown away. New ones will be installed. The front-room cooler, installed on the North facing gable end, was visible from Gold street. When re-installed it will be on the South gable, sitting on the newly re-constructed roof on the South side. This will be far less visible, hidden by the trees in the park and residence to our South. This will be done as a separate project this spring.

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