It is a beautiful afternoon here at Bellamy! Today we’re excited about new progress in our Slave Quarter restoration project. The lath work is almost complete on both levels and will soon be ready for the plaster coating. This type of insulation was used through the 20th century until drywall became the popular replacement. Scaffolding had also been set up to work on mortar replacements. The compound being used between the bricks has been lab tested to accurately match the mixture used during the original construction. Make sure to join us October 13th for the official unveiling and dedication of the slave quarters. Contact us at 910.251.3700 for details!
Restoration of the Bellamy Mansion’s urban Slave Quarters is currently underway. 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 top picture is the mortise and tenon from a portion of the original floor.
In the bottom 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! Thank you, from everyone at Bellamy Mansion.
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!
Reinforcing the walls around the windows on the first floor.
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.
A close up of the wall around the arched upper west window.
The traditional bird’s-mouth catch holding the window open to let in a breeze.
Detail of the bird’s-mouth catch. This type of catch would have been typical of this kind of structure and RBC has used period accurate screws, paying close attention to the details of restoration.
Detail of the type of reinforcement done to the windows. This corbeled arch provides support where the original wood had decayed over time.
The upstairs work bench with a section of corbeled wood. It takes time, patience and skill to make the wood bend, fit and support.
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.