DONE! – Restoration of the Wright Brothers Farm estate house is substantially complete. While it is true that rehabilitation of a 19th Century dwelling is a perpetual endeavor, we’re calling this project “done” for the moment. So much so that we’ve made representation to the NY State Historic Preservation Office showing that the restoration project approved by NY State in 2016 is completed to the standards required to maintain the National and State Historic Register designations.
Work on the house began even before we arrived in Western NY on July 1, 2016. A survey and planning effort had been launched in May with the help of brother Mitch and willing cadre of architects, contractors and Village zoning officials anxious to see the house rescued from the grip of entropy. The only local residents who didn’t appear anxious to see the house restored were the squatters who had taken up residence in the attic.
We quickly evicted the squatters and got to work creating habitable space for our family. The restoration effort was founded on complimenting objectives that defined the scope and intent of the project:
- Preserve the workmanship, architectural style and character of the dwelling;
- Restore the building envelop to a sustainable condition and improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of the house
- Create comfortable and functional living space for our family, and;
- Restore interior spaces and exterior finishes to create an attractive property of future operation of a bed & breakfast enterprise.
We brought Adam Trott Architects in to help us translate these objectives into plans and specifications to guide the work. Working within the constructs of the restoration plans, Jim Alexander and his crew from Alexander Construction went to work tearing apart and reconstructing the North wing of the house and the core spaces necessary for our family to move in. Jim’s team worked with a deliberateness and economy of motion that had us moved in by Labor Day. To be sure, there were unfinished jobs everywhere but the core building services were in place and the house was habitable. It would be nearly Christmas before we had a fully functional kitchen but we were comfortably settled in our own house for the fist time in six years.
While Jim Alexander’s crew was updating and renovating interior spaces and utilities, Craig Barber and his exterior repair teams were hard at work replacing roofs, rehabilitating chimneys and restoring ornamental ironwork on the exterior. Years of neglect had taken a heavy toll on the roofs and chimneys; water damage from leaky flashing, masonry, and shingles had damage plaster and room finishes through the upper floors. A concerted effort by crews of roofers, masons and metal fabricators put the roofs in order and restored the weather-tight integrity so that interior restorations could proceed without risk of further water damage.
By November 2016, we had completed repair or replacement of the roof and had a good start on exterior painting. Despite an unusually mild winter and fall, cold nights and short days forced us back indoors for the winter and exterior renovations were deferred until spring.