Thursday, June 26, 2008

Roofing tiles take form at the JMHouse

Paul Saunders Roofing Company is continuing their hard work at the historic APVA John Marshall House, downtown, 818 East Marshall Street. The western roof is now almost half done. New support boards have been installed, tar paper placed and about one-third of the concrete "hendrix" tiles secured. After I finally made my way (carefully on the bouncing aluminum ladder----don't try this at home!) to the top, I was immediately impressed with the quality look of the tiles and their installation. They looked just like cedar shakes. It was at the end of the day, so just one young man was working on the chimney atop the roof at that time. Much of the exterior grout had worn away, so it was carefully replacing it with a special sand and mortar mixture common to the late 18th century. Today, the roofers may finish the entire roof side and will then begin the permanent installation of the chimney flashing. The final phase of this side of the roof will include placement of the gutters and downspouts. Call me at 804-339-6007-- Doug Welsh, if you have any questions. Anyone wishing to visit is welcome! Just let me know and I can plan a tour of the house for you.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Update on Strategic Planning


The regularly schedule meeting of APVA Preservation Virginia’s Trustees was held in Richmond on 18 June 2008.

The meeting focused on continuing the Strategic Planning Process with the goals of approving the new vision statement, the revised mission statement, and the goals for the 2009-2014 Strategic Plan. In addition, the Board committees and task forces reported on the progress in each of their areas to determine objectives to meet the draft goals.

President John Guy summarized the planning since February. He asked Board Members Eric Thorpe and Gennie Keller, and Executive Director and Secretary Elizabeth Kostelny to report on different aspects of the planning process and the drafting of the vision, mission, and goals.

Vision, Mission, and Goal Statements Approved.
The Board approved the preamble, vision, mission, and goal statements below. The preamble provides context for the vision and mission statements and concisely describes the heritage, statewide activities, and influence of APVA Preservation Virginia. We will use it on our website and other communication venues.

APVA Preservation Virginia, a private non-profit organization and statewide historic preservation leader founded in 1889 is dedicated to perpetuating and revitalizing Virginia's cultural, architectural, and historic heritage, thereby ensuring that historic places are an integral part of the lives of present and future generations. Our mission is directly consistent with and supportive of Article XI of the Constitution of Virginia, benefiting both the Commonwealth and the nation. APVA Preservation Virginia provides leadership, experience, influence, and services to the public and special audiences. Results are achieved by saving, managing, and protecting historic places and by developing preservation policy, programs, and strategies. We partner at the local, state, and national levels with individuals and organizations.

Vision Statement.
We envision a Virginia recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for preserving and promoting its distinctive historic structures, landscapes, collections, communities and archaeological sites—guided by the expert leadership, stewardship and advocacy of APVA Preservation Virginia.

Mission Statement.
The mission of APVA Preservation Virginia is to preserve, promote, and serve as an advocate for the state’s irreplaceable historic places, thereby providing cultural, economic, and educational benefits to everyone.

--Historic places are preserved in perpetuity―Partner to Preserve Historic Places.
--Through a strategic communication plan and educational and public programs, a strong preservation ethic will be developed that supports the stewardship of historic places—Promote Places and Programs.
--The organization is capable and financially sustainable in effectively fulfilling its mission. Attract Supporters and Members and Organize for Future Success.

Executive Director.
Executive Director Elizabeth Kostelny announced the close on the sale of Gay Mont in Caroline County. She stated that the gift by Mr. and Mrs. Patton in the 1970s was intended to help support the long-term preservation of the property and to benefit the organization. The new owners of Gay Mont are bound by easements on the property and will reconstruct some of the structural elements not reconstructed by the Pattons. In addition, the purchasers are keeping the majority of the furnishings with the house, as was the Pattons’ desire. The funds from the sale of the house will be invested in the long-term reserves. The long-term cash reserves help to produce interest income that offsets the operational expenses. The funds from the sale of the collection will be restricted for the reimbursement of acquisitions to and conservation of the collection. She recognized the Pattons for their generosity and vision.

Chair Anne Cross reported that the Committee was renewing its efforts to identify Board candidates to help support the needs of APVA, including candidates with the capacity to give or influence gifts at a high level. She also reported succession leadership plans had been implemented by naming vice chairs to all Board committees.

Chair Bob Sedivy presented a chart that analyzed the allocation of revenue and expenses to the major operation components of programming—public policy, membership, properties without Historic Jamestowne, Historic Jamestowne, and the Revolving Fund. The chart illustrates how in each area of the organization incurs a deficit. Committees and staff will use the analysis in planning to see where additional revenues can be raised, expenses can be trimmed, and activities discontinued. It was acknowledged that there would always be a tension between worthwhile programs we must subsidize and those that can carry them. This exercise is a way to create a proactive strategy going forward to close the gap between revenues and expenses.

Organizational Task Force.
Chair Barry Kerkam reported on the President’s Council meeting that took place on 16 May. Thirteen branches attended and discussed issues related to the draft criteria for branch participation. The Branches representatives have been asked to comment by 15 July. The Task Force will review those comments and present a final proposal for the structure, and criteria related to Branches and Partners to the Board at the 17 September meeting.

Historic Jamestowne Task Force and Historic Jamestowne Archaeology.
Chair Carter Hudgins reported on the first meeting of this group and the consideration of a draft mission statement for Historic Jamestowne. The group is also looking at the long-term strategies needed to plan for and sustain the continued research, expanded public programs, marketing, and promotion of the site. Dr. William Kelso reported on the field school and recent finds.

Preservation Services.
Chair Katty Mears reported on the Committee’s work to draft criteria by which to evaluate and rank the properties. The Board approved the criteria and asked that the ranking process begin. The criteria will be used to evaluate the best long-term stewards of the properties. It also will be used to evaluate the consideration of any properties in the future. Mrs. Mears presented benchmarks that will be used to evaluate all APVA programs for their effectiveness in supporting the mission, returning investment to the organization, and achieving our goals. Two rugs were deaccessioned from the Mary Washington Branch properties.

Revolving Fund.
Manager Sarah Cooleen updated the Trustees on the status of properties in the Fund and on strategic planning goals of finding dedicated funding for the operations of the Fund, as well as ways to expand the marketing of the program and properties within it.

Interim Director of Development Mary Ellen Stumpf shared the objectives of the development effort to review recommended models for the staffing structure of the department, test a satellite office in the Williamsburg area, and expand the Development Committee. She also noted the necessity to prioritize short- and long-term needs, determine endowment goals, and review the Historic Jamestowne Campaign Phase Two and Three priorities. In membership, set a goal to increase membership to 6,400 units by 2014—effectively doubling the membership role; pilot acquisition stations at Historic Jamestowne and Old Cape Henry Lighthouse; coordinate with the National Trust on appeal to Virginia members; and to increase and sustain a renewal rate from 67% to 75%.

Branding Initiative.
Marketing and Public Relations Director Tina Calhoun reported on the branding initiative to be launched this year. The first step will be an on-line survey to test organizational name and its effectiveness in conveying our mission. The survey also will clarify existing logos for the APVA, Historic Jamestowne, and Jamestown Rediscovery. The results will be used to create corporate identity guidelines, design new materials and develop statewide templates for various printed pieces. We will partner with the VCU Design School. The partnership has the following advantages: 1) supports the concept of partnerships that is listed as part of APVA’s vision and goals and helps forge a new relationship with VCU; 2) offers an opportunity to involve younger people in our work and perhaps introduce the concept of historic preservation to college age students; 3) offers the opportunity to leverage the partnership in future media opportunities; and 4) the APVA's first logo of three ships was designed by VCU students and used by APVA for almost thirty years, an interesting angle to pitch to the media. The results will be a corporate identity package that will be used by all programs, properties, services and branches.

Regional Trustee Reports.
Mrs. Cross, Mrs. Mears, and Dr. Wills reported on the Branches in their region. Mrs. Kenneweg was not present.

Restoration and Repair proceeds at John Marshall House

Intensive restoration work is now proceeding with great speed and care at the John Marshall House! Paul Saunders Roofing Company ( is now replacing the aging ashpalt shingle roof. The first step was to erect scaffolding and begin removing the plywood under-support sheathing. This exposed the massive support beams, which even the most experienced carpenter gazes on with wonder. Ken, the crew supervisor, said they would have no problem replacing the plywood with the more authentic support boards. "Everything is still completely straight!," he said. The builder of the John Marshall House, perhaps a shipbuilder, based on the construction, took no chances that the roof would sag. It is amply supported and pegged. Special "Hendrix tiles" are being placed this week. They will look just like ceder or cypress shakes----the original roof material. Gutters will also be installed, which will help tremendously with a decades-old water problem, especially on the west side of the house. If you are a good climber and have the willpower, Ken will probably let you come up for a look!!!! Call me at 804-339-6007 so I can schedule the adventure.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gay Mont--SOLD!

On June 12, APVA Preservation Virginia closed on a sale of Gay Mont in Caroline County. The house will be restored to a private and livable home. The grounds that Jim Patton so lovingly cultivated will be returned to their once grand beauty.

Mr. and Mrs. James Patton gave Gay Mont and its collection of furnishings related to the house to APVA in the late 1970s. The House was rebuilt after a tragic fire in the 1950s. The Pattons took care in putting the 275 plus acres under easement so that no development of the land may ever take place. The Pattons’ retained a life-time tenancy. Mr. Patton, the last remaining resident, passed away in November of 2007.

When the house was acquired, there might have been a brief thought that it would function as a historic house museum. That thought was fleeting, however, with the recognition that visitation could sustain a financial model for the long-term preservation of the house. Mr. Patton acknowledged this fact as well. He did desire that every effort the made to keep the house and the collection so lovingly brought back to Gay Mont be kept together as much as possible. That desire proved one of our biggest challenges.

When Mr. Patton died in November, APVA became the owner of the house. The Restoration Crew secured the house and posted signs to deter trespassers. Cathy Dean began a full inventory of the collection. Louis Malon began the process of securing appraisals. The neighbors who had nursed Mr. Patton looked in to make sure all was secure.

Shortly after acquiring the house, an individual stepped forward to purchase the property. He undertook engineering and architectural studies to determine that his needs could be accommodated. He plans to re-build the music room, complete the second floor and modernize the bathrooms and kitchen. Through Cathy’s good work, she negotiated a sale of the collection with the intent of keeping the majority of it with the house. And thanks to Sarah’s tenacity, the property closed on time while Louis jetted off to Hawaii.

The sale of Gay Mont represents a beneficial model in historic preservation. Knowing that it is unwise to think of preservation soley within the context of historic house museums, placing Gay Mont in private hands with the resources to restore and preserve it is wise. The proceeds from the sale will be invested in APVA Preservation Virginia’s future. Under our policy, the sale proceeds will be placed in our long-term cash reserves to generate interest income for the on-going operations of the organization. The funds resulting from the sale of the collection will be restricted to acquire new objects for the collection or to help conserve objects already in the collection.

The Pattons gave us a great gift—perhaps greater then anyone realized at the time. The Pattons gave APVA Preservation Virginia the gift of security. Security in knowing that the funds from the sale invested in the long-term cash reserves will generate operating support for years to come. THANK YOU MR. and MRS. PATTON!

And thanks to all who helped make the sale of Gay Mont seem effortless!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Nous avons finis

The restoration dept traveled to Scotchtown on Thursday June 12, 2008 to set the pad for the "Colonial Dames" plaque, which has been on a temporary post since 2003. Five years for the APVA is a relatively small period of time. On the following day, the crew finished the last stages of the dependancies roofing at Smith"s Fort. This job required 8 days for 3 men, one to true and round shingles and 2 to strip the old shingles and install new ones. The shingles cost $1350, a consideral expense for sure, but the roofs should last 30-plus years.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Too Close for Comfort

The large Maple tree that has shaded the rear of Scotchtown, Patrick Henry's former home in Hanover County, is dead. After showing signs of distress the last couple of years, it has simply not leafed out at all this year. Ann Reid has secured prices for having it removed, as well as some of the other large trees at the site trimmed back to remove dead and threatening limbs. Because this tree is inside the fence area, that area of concern to The Garden Club of Virginia, and is such a significant landscape feature on the property, we have solicited their permission to have it removed and their advice about having it replaced. Having seen this picture, the advisor to the Club, Will Reilly, concurs that the tree has to go.

Not only is the tree dying, it poses a significant threat to the house because of its proximity. This raises a bit of a dilemma for us. We appreciate the shading value of a mature tree this close to the structure. Passive ventilation and use of natural alternatives to machine powered air conditioning as much as possible is one of the aspects of sustainability that we preach about old houses. However, when those features become fragile with age and natural cycles, as well as the threat of storms as we learned in Isabelle a few years ago, the safety of the house from an obvious threat has to be considered. When this feature is replaced, we will seek a buffer from the House so as it matures it will not present a new threat for future stewards to worry about.

Smith,s Fort Dependancies

On Friday, June 6, 2008, Karl and Mike of the restoration dept finished roofing the necessary house, while Jon worked with Davies Masonry on the tombs at the Jamestown church.
The following Monday, with the same working arrangements, the North side of the tool shed was stripped and then covered with sheet rubber held on with wood strips. The rubber is much heavier than plastic tarps and much more reliable. Its a damn shame those idiots in restoration can't figure out how to arrange and caption their pictures better.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

1 down, 3 to go

The restoration crew finished the North side of the necessary house at Smiths Fort plantation on June 5th, 2008, leaving the South side, plus the tool shed on the other corner of the yard to go. The shingles are 24 inch, medium cedar "handsplits", meaning they are about one-half inch at the butt, sawn on the bottom and split on the top. The process of setting up scaffold, tearing off the old roof and installing new shingles takes two men about two days per side, which does not include trueing the shingle edges and rounding them on a bandsaw. The old shingles were sawn cypress and had been installed @1985.

Monday, June 2, 2008


The pumphouse at Bacon's Castle is completely finished as of June 2nd, 2008. It has the exact same dimensions and details as the old, termite infested building, but is completely termite proof. We were able to reuse the door, soffite, facia, and roof sheathing on the south side. The light was added as a convenience, since the castle grounds are so poorly lit. We will start on the re-roofing of the two dependancies at Smith's Fort on the 3rd.