History + Concrete = Our New Front Walk!

Concrete PouringAfter a few weeks of truly disagreeable weather, we are making steady progress on our exterior restoration. The painting continues, and this week, we began work on the front entry itself. After demolishing the old front walkway and removing the temporary door last week, we began this week’s work with an empty hole in front of the front columns. This demolition, however, was nothing if not a proud moment for the Society in its work to restore the exterior of the Sanborn.

Within two days, our subcontractors had formed the structure of the new concrete and brick front path. The front walk will be in keeping with the historical appearance of the original walk, a brick path anchored and bordered by concrete.

The formulation of the concrete has been a fascinating process, as a number of us put our heads together on how to best replicate the appearance of the original design. Considering the natural wear and weather damage to the original, this was a surprisingly creative process. After reviewing samples of rock mixture and concrete, we finally came up with a formula for the walk: a smooth concrete base, with a 3/8” aggregate of two sizes of black rock broadcast on top of the concrete.

As you may not be aware, the art form of creative concretework using specialized aggregate is relatively scarce in New England. After conferring with a number of aggregate specialists, however, it appears that this method will most resemble the original walk. New concrete methods – as well as attention to ADA-accessibility! – only increases the overall value of the front walk.

Following the setting of the concrete this week, we will then be able to lay the brick, install the new column bases, and put in the new front door. For those of you who plan to join us for Town Day on Saturday, June 4th, there will be a number of new elements to explore at the Sanborn House!

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Who Knew a Historic Paint Analysis Could Be Fun?!

As anyone who has ever visited the Sanborn knows, its unique facade is made up of a light stucco and accented with elegant painted wood trim. Though the stucco has remained in remarkably good condition, the painted trim, has unfortunately, faced a different battle. Multiple coats of only the most basic white paint have not only obscured the original 1907 trim color choice, but the layers of stark white paint application combined with the weathered and unattended exterior have led to an unappealing appearance. And since so much work has been completed to restore the Sanborn interiors to their intricately detailed beauty, so does the exterior deserve the same attention.

As part of our MHC matching grant, we are able to focus on the exterior of the House for the first time since the Winchester Historical Society took stewardship of the site in 2006. For the past few weeks, the House has been scraped (for those of you who have driven by over the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that the House is in various stages of paint removal). Although the painters must make their way through dozens of paint layers, and the House must be hand-scraped in accordance with EPA lead paint removal, the progress has been amazing. If you look closely, you can tell a lot about the past quick paint jobs. For instance, the paint was much easier to remove from the uppermost section of the House, mainly because painters rarely took the time to make their way up there in past decades.

One of the most exciting and fun aspects of painting the House has been undergoing the historic paint analysis. For those unfamiliar with the process, a small sample of painted wood is taken offsite to a lab. There, the paint undergoes a series of tests, including embedding in polyester resin and magnification under ultra violet light. At the end of two weeks, the tests are complete and the client receives information on the original paint color and the closest modern approximation using mainstream paint brands like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams. Learning that the original paint choice was not white or cream but in fact a light gray has been one of the more enlightening aspects of our restoration project thus far. The painters are currently in the process of finishing the primer application, and next week will be ready to apply Benjamin Moore color #1529: “Stingray.”
Next week we also plan to begin demolition of the front entry walk and to begin installation of the new door. Be sure to keep an eye out for all the changes at the Sanborn!

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Winchester Historical Society Announces Goal Update on Grant

In our recent Black Horse Bulletin, Winchester Historical Society President Bob Colt reported on the progress of the grants for Sanborn House restoration. In 2010, the Massachusetts Historical Commission awarded a $45,000 matching grant. The goal of an additional $45,000 has been reached through personal contributions as well as generous donations from the En Ka Society and the Griffin Foundation. The restoration will include an entry walk and lighting, and a new mahogany and glass front entrance that will replicate the original double door of 1908. This work will make the building handicapped accessible and meet ADA standards.

Executive Director Rebekah Beaulieu is busy overseeing the work at the Sanborn House Historical and Cultural Center, which will take place this spring. She reports that, “The Center has a busy schedule for 2011. It is a venue for various types of events, from monthly programs on history and restoration, to private rentals for special celebrations and events. Though we will be hard at work on our restoration, we plan to keep the building open to the public as much as possible.”

Keep in mind that the Sanborn House Historical and Cultural Center is and will remain open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. If you have any questions, please contact Rebekah Beaulieu at (781) 721-0135.

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Organizations Supporting the Sanborn House and Winchester Historical Society Programs

Featured Publication

Wright-Locke Farm: A History in Pictures
by Ellen Knight

Look into the history of the Wright-Locke farm in a new 16-page booklet titled Wright-Locke Farm: A History in Pictures. Read More.

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