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How Do I Restore Thee? by Gary N. Costello

posted Apr 23, 2012, 11:41 AM by Pamela Davison

The Patriot, Volume 6, Issue 1 – January 2012

...let me count the ways! An immense amount of work has gone into the restoration of the historic Hull House.  This is a big house!  The Hulls were making quite a statement when they built their home. In total, it’s almost four thousand square feet including the cellar area and the garret (that's the attic, to the uninitiated).  Those who have been following this gargantuan effort will recall work commencing in 2003 on exterior stabilization of the building, which stopped some of the most serious deterioration and shut out the elements in many areas.  2006 saw the complete restoration of the wood shingled roof, parapet end walls and all four brick chimneys, creating a striking new-old look. Then floors were leveled, radiant heat installed, and missing fireplaces rebuilt.  And the work continued on – missing walls were rebuilt, and 20 incorrect windows were replaced with historically correct ones in 2008.  Thousands of square feet of paint were removed from walls and woodwork in 2010.  Hundreds of smaller repairs have been made in every room to advance the work toward completion.  Many of these changes and repairs will never be seen by the average guest, but all were necessary to do the job right.

Most recently, much of the damaged plaster in the 10 first and second floor rooms has been carefully repaired – with more yet to be done.   The focus of much attention of late has been the main area of the cellar kitchen.  Here the floor has been prepared for the installation of insulation, radiant heat, and the application of a beautiful wide pine plank floor - now complete.  The stairs that once led from the first floor common room down to the kitchen area, a stairway that had long been removed and replaced with a modern one, has now been meticulously recreated to mirror the original, steep and narrow though it was – watch your head!  Another significant improvement can be seen in the kitchen’s large wooden fireplace surround.  Wood damaged in recent times by careless fire builders has all been craftily restored.  More than a dozen repairs have been made to reverse 200 years of wear and tear on this one piece to make the surround ready for re-installation.

What lies ahead includes the application of new plaster to all newly constructed walls on all three floors. Several hundred feet of baseboard await installation. Eventually all will be painted with the period-appropriate colors and hardware installed on all doors and cupboards – seemingly ready for the Hulls to move in!  Work remains to reconstruct the cellar scullery (kitchen clean up and wash room) including the installation of radiant heat and a pine plank floor.   

Two new walls must be erected and a larder (cold storage room) will be readied in the cellar.  The attic floor high above will be insulated to help retain more heat, thus making the house more comfortable for its modern visitors.  

Lastly, a functional pantry will crown the northeast corner of the first floor.  If you haven't been to the house in the past year or so, we urge you to visit this spring to see the upgrades and the pieces starting to come together.  Next we start on additional exterior work and the physical development of the farmstead itself   ...and the counting goes on!   

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