Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bacon's Castle Winter Spruce Up-2012

Preservation Virginia's restoration crew has been given the opportunity to spruce-up Bacon's Castle's interior during the winter months of 2012, in preparation for it's reopening on March the 2nd. The last time the the interior was extensively refreshed was in the mid-80's, about 25 years ago. Needless to say, it could use a fresh coat of paint. The crew started in the front half of the 1854 wing. There were countless many plaster cracks that needed patching, but the time consuming job was the windows. The paint on the sashes had alligatored and flaked to the point where they had to be scraped down to bare wood and then primed, before a new topcoat could be applied. In performing this task, the crew discovered that the sashes had Roman numerals cut into them. The numbers started at what is now an interior doorway in the gift, then progressed clockwise around the building. That was the "neat" discovery. The crew also discovered old, but extensive, termite damage to the front window in the hallway, requiring consolidation of the trim and window seat, plus replacement of nailers for the seat, the trim on the right side, and the nailers for the lower wainscot. That was the "bummer".
The crew used Sherwin-Williams alkyd primer and then "Pro-Mar" for the trim topcoat. The Pro-Mar" paint coats well and dries harder then most latex paints, making it ideal for windows. Sherwin-Williams "Duration" paint, in a matte finish, was applied to the plaster. It's a thick paint that helps hide hairline plaster cracks. The fresh paint really made the rooms "pop". The are so much more bright and cheery, it's difficult to believe they are the same rooms. (Hey, if you can't brag on yourself once in a while, what's the point of blogging?)

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Ferrell Building- a Real Survivor

The Ferrell Building in Danville, Virginia is a real survivor. The three-story brick building was built on Main Street from 1877 to 1886 by tobacconist S. H. Holland. Housing numerous businesses over the years including the Gravely-Holland Insurance & Real Estate Company, the Empire Café, the Tuxedo Restaurant and the Ferrell Furniture retailer, the building did not fare well after the decline of downtown in the 1950s.

By 1991, the Danville Historical Society learned that the building’s owner was preparing to raze it for a parking lot. The Historical Society advanced $3,000 to secure it from destruction in hopes that the Commonwealth of Virginia would take possession of it under its revolving fund. After several years, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources turned over the Revolving Fund Program and all associated structures, including the Ferrell Building, to Preservation Virginia.

The building was eventually sold twice to well-intentioned buyers; however, both rehabilitation endeavors faltered and the building was becoming more and more in need of stabilization.

Even though the Ferrell Building is a contributing structure in the Downtown Danville Historic District, which is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, the city was not pleased with the building’s appearance and by 2010 began to hint at demolition.

Fortunately, the building was under a protective easement with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that prevented demolition of the building. The easement also limited how the building’s exterior could be altered.

In 2010, the Winston-Salem based historic redevelopment firm, Rehab Builders, acquired the Ferrell Building and, with the assistance of the city, has turned an eyesore into one of downtown Danville’s brightest spots. Retail stores will eventually occupy the street level with apartments upstairs.

Recently, the City of Danville and the Danville Downtown Association hosted a mixer to allow the public to tour the Ferrell Historic Lofts. Everyone including City Council members and staff, the Mayor, the Chief of Police and people in the preservation and economic development communities were present to view the transformation.

“We believe this project is generating much of its public interest because the Ferrell building is truly a piece of the heart and history of downtown Danville.”

“The unique living spaces, attractive lease rates and location in the burgeoning River District create a fabulous downtown living environment,” said Patrick Reilly, co-owner of Ferrell Historic Lofts and project manager.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Preservation Virginia's Historic Site Review 2011

2011 saw many changes within our historic properties. From natural disasters to reinterpretation and changing of the guard, our historic properties have reinvented and continue to work towards innovative and relevant interpretations.

A piece of the lighthouse from the epic Hurri-quake"!
Cape Henry Lighthouse saw the passing of the torch from light keeper to light keeper, as well as a minor upset from what Chuck Morgan, the new site coordinator at Cape Henry deemed the "hurri-quake", a rare 6.8 earthquake back in late August, immediately followed Hurricane Irene! After being closed for a month following these natural disasters, we reopened, and without missing a beat, have the lighthouse operating better than ever!

The Marshall House with our celebration banner

The John Marshall House celebrated 100 years of historic preservation this year, having been saved from demolition in 1911 by what was then known as APVA. This year we also brought on a new site coordinator, Bobbie LeVinnes. She has done a fabulous job bringing in school groups, helping to create new programming, and in general, bringing enthusiasm to the site. We also put in a brand new HVAC system, restored the house to it's original 1790's paint colors and reinstalled period wall paper n the family dinning room!

College students taking a special fieldtrip to see Bacon's Castle
Bacon's Castle was closed to the public in 2011. During this year we have asked the community what they want. They responded, and together we will be reopening the site in March 2012 while we continue to reinterpret the site. Every person that visits Bacon's Castle in 2012 will be part of our reinterpretation. The visitor experience will be analyzed as we move forward. In this way, Bacon's Castle's story will reflect what our visitors want to know, rather than what us stodgy preservationist think visitors want to know!

Kids taking part in the hands on colonial crafts at Scotchtown

Scotchtown excelled at programming and engaging the local community. Ann Reid, our site coordinator brought in so many local youngin's to help care for the site. 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, high school volunteers and local residents all helped paint out buildings, clear nature trails, care for a colonial kitchen garden and much more. Scotchtown continues to be our most family friendly and engaging site.

 In 2012 we are keeping this momentum going, so keep up with our website, and visit our sites! Welcome to 2012 and Preservation Virginia's historic properties!