Friday, May 29, 2009

Patrick Henry's Birthday

Today marks the 273rd anniversary of Patrick Henry's birth at Studley in eastern Hanover County. Although neither it is among our promoted sites, we do own both the site of Patrick's birth and the graveyard where his mother is buried. Studley is long snce lost, although it's site is known and marked. Two years ago, the Freeman Branch sponsored an archaeological investigation that uncovered much more than had previously been known about the site. Even with this broader understanding in hand, the future use of the site is uncertain. Preliminiary discussions with the Polegreen Foundation have not deveoped a specific plan. For now, the site is re-covered and within an argriclutural area, safely awaiting some determination of it long term future.

Sarah Winston Henry's gravesite is also well cared for, being in the midst of a golf course just outside Amherst. It was the last of the Preservation Virigna properties I had not seen when I visited there last summer. Larger than you might think and containing quite a few marked graves, it is seen, if not fully appreciated, but many golfers every day.

So Congratulations Sarah, and Happy Birthday Patrick!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hang'em Low?

Ten of the twelve new garden gates for Scotchtown have been hung. The pressure-treated yellow pine gates are replacing the red cedar gates of unknown age. We would have preferred to use cedar this time as well, but the price of cedar is many times that of pine. The department is experimenting with the use of this material, trying to determine if its lifespan is equal to or greater than the less abundant and more expensive woods. One thing we did notice, was that treated pine is more susceptible to checking and warping. We have had to epoxy cracks in the curved diagonal braces quite a bit during and after the construction of the gates. Western red cedar would not have checked like that. The straight posts and rails have not had the checking problem, with the exception of one post. It has taken three men about 31 days each to make and hang these gates. There are two left to be done, and they are about 2 days from being finished.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Scotchtown Gates Progressing

The Restoration crew is progressing at super glacier speed in the construction of the replacement garden gates for Scotchtown. Karl and Jon are moving a gate after drilling and pinning it. They were utilizing the nice weather we had Friday to escape the cluttered confines of the Mule barn during a major shop project. The other pictures show Jon shaping the pins with the pin driver, a steel plate with assorted holes bored into it. Once the pins are split and roughed to close dimensions, the pins are driven through the correct size hole to true them up so they won't bind or split the wood when they are driven into a joint. the other picture shows Karl and Jon in the process of clamping and pinning a gate on the work station in the Mule barn. There are 12 gates to be made. Each gate has 13 mortises and requires 13 pins for completion.