The restoration of this historical landmark is in the hands of local artisans that specialize in restoration and preservation of historic properties. Luther T. Rogers, III or Tommy is a third generation contractor, and President of Rogers Building Corporation. The Rogers team is reconstructing the building’s carpentry work back to its original state. Rogers has worked on many historical buildings in the Wilmington area including the Bellamy Mansion. Francisco Castillo is the owner of CGC Historic Restorations Inc. and is overseeing the restoration of the masonry, and plaster work. Castillo is a skilled artisan that trained as an apprentice under a master craftsman in Barcelona, Spain, he is certified through Pitt Community College, and was awarded the Historic Wilmington Foundation Preservation Award in 2009. In Wilmington he has worked on other historical site including the Latimer House and the Bellamy Mansion. Rodney Allen is contracted to restore the shutters of the building. He is a contract carpenter that has worked with the Rogers Building Corporation on several historical locations in the Wilmington area including the Williams House and the Murchison House. Details on the specific techniques of the restoration process can be found in other articles on this website.
The skilled guys from Rogers Building Corporation continue their fantastic reconstruction work on the Bellamy Mansion’s Slave Quarters. They are using a ‘Timber Framing’ method keeping true to the original construction style.
In the left picture is the mortise and tenon from a portion of the original floor.
In the right picture you can see the new wood members being prepared with mortise and tenon joints. The mortise is the rectangular hole cut into the member in preparation for a tenon, also called a tongue or tang, to be inserted from a corresponding member. The tenon will then be secured to the mortise with an oak peg (not seen in picture).
The lumber used for this project is Southern Yellow Pine.
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.
Last week, Mack and Andrew of Rogers Building Corp worked on replacing the support beam for the fireplace, so that Francisco, owner of CGC Historic Restorations and the mason/bricklayer for the restoration, could work on the fireplaces. Check back later for more photos of the finished fireplace!
Because the fireplace would burn wooden framing placed under or around it, the craftsmen building the Slave Quarters were forced to used an alternative. They used Mortise and Tenon joints across the floor in front of the fireplace. This is a type of strong joint in which a mortise, or cavity, is cut into a piece of the frame. Then, a tenon, also called a tongue or tang, is made to fit inside the mortise. The joint pictured above allowed the craftsmen to support the second story without wooden frames being too close to the fireplace.
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