As restorations move forward in the Slave Quarters, new supports are being put into place in preparation for plaster work. The technique used is known as lath and plaster. The design begins with wood slats known as laths, which are nailed horizontally across the wall studs. Each wall frame is covered in these pieces, tacked at the studs. The lath is typically about two inches wide by four feet long by 1/4 inch thick. Plaster is then applied, typically using a wooden board as the application tool. The applier drags the board upward over the wall, forcing the plaster into the gaps between the lath and leaving a layer on the front the depth of the temporary guides, typically about 1/4 inch. A helper feeds new plaster onto the board, as the plaster is applied in quantity. When the wall is fully covered, the vertical lath “guides” are removed, and their “slots” are filled in. After applying a second layer in the same fashion, leaving about a half inch of rough, sandy plaster (called a brown coat), a smooth, white finish coat is applied. After the plaster is completely dry, the walls are ready to be painted. Learn more about this technique at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lath_and_plaster
The flooring on the second floor is also half way finished and looking great. Without the hard work of Rogers Building Corporation, none of this progress would have been possible!
This week is all about windows! The skilled guys from Rogers Building Corporation have been carefully reconstructing and reinforcing the walls around the windows and the windows themselves. Using craftsmanship, time and patience, they have nearly completed the upper west window that was almost falling out of the structure when they started. Utilizing unique and period accurate details like the bird’s-mouth catch and corbeled arches, the restoration is really something to see!
The upper west window, finally secure. The walls and windows have both been reinforced. The vertical piece of wood in the middle has twine wrapped around it, connected to both sides of the window arch. By winding it, the tension increases, essentially pulling the sides of the arch together, creating more support.
Reproduction and salvage glass panes looking out over the roof of the poultry shed and the carriage house.
When looking at the Slave Quarters many recognize the skill of the workers represented in obvious ways such as: the beautiful brick work of the exterior or the masterfully constructed floors and joists. However, nails are not something that come to one’s mind when they think about the skill of the craftsmen. In 1859 the workers could not simply go to a hardware store to pick up a box of nails, instead they had to hand cut the nails to fit their specific need. This picture shows a few of the nails used to build the Slave Quarters; beautifully crafted and wonderfully preserved.
Mack, John, and Andrew from Rogers Building Corporation recently pulled out an interesting floor joist from the Slave Quarters. Not only was this piece of lumber in excellent condition, but it also has mortise joints carved into the side. Originally we believed the mortises were carved in the wrong direction and the board was just repurposed. However, through more investigating the carpenters noticed that the mortises line up perfectly with missing bricks in the wall. This has led them to hypothesize that the original artisans used the mortise joints and the missing bricks to put beams up to be used as scaffolding so they could work on the higher parts of the walls. These artisans, mostly slaves, were truly innovators.
This is a picture of a small tunnel that extends from below the privies out into the yard. There is a second tunnel next to the one pictured that is identical. They run parallel to one another and Frank Castillo is working to clean the area up so more information can be gleaned.
The renovation of our rare and historically important urban slave building appeared in a feature on WWAY TV recently. Check out the news here.
Jazz at the Mansion will be back! The rained out El Jaye Johnson & The Port City All-Stars will return to perform September 12 @ 6:30 pm! Bring blankets or chairs and enjoy this summer concert on the lawn!
Tickets are $12 general admission, $10 for members, & $5 for students (with ID).
Questions? Call us at 910.251.3700.
*Weather permitting. In event of bad weather, concert may be cancelled.
offers tours, features changing exhibits, and provides venue space for
weddings and special events.
503 Market Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
Tues - Sat 10am- 4pm
Sunday 1pm- 4pm