Homestead Restoration

Restoration

The vision for the future at the Hull Family Home & Farmstead is ambitious but critically important to preserving the house and the stories of the family and the culture and events of the 19th century in Western New York. In order to help children and families, students and researchers, history buffs and tourists to understand the present, we want to help them appreciate the past.

In 2003, exterior stabilization was done to repair all doors and windows making them serviceable and weather tight. The pebbly stucco was removed from all four exterior walls and mortar joints were re-pointed and repaired as necessary.

Physical restoration of the home began in 2005 with the stabilization of the structure and continued in 2006-2007 with the replacement of the the roof, cornices, rain gutters, parapet end walls, chimneys and attic windows. Original materials were used whenever possible and restoration quality was stressed on all work. Six of the seven hearths and fireplaces that remained in the house when acquired, are still intact and have been restored to working order and original appearance. The seventh or 'common room' fireplace, which had long-ago been removed, has since been completely rebuilt in its original location and now appears as it once did.

The home retains it's rare ‘beehive’ bake oven in the cellar kitchen. The intent is to return it to working condition, so as to be used in interpretive programs. All existing floors in Hull House are original eastern white pine except for one, which has been restored to the correct ‘period’ floor.

The modifications that had been made to the home's interior over the years have been reversed. Interior walls and the room configuration have been reworked so as to reflect the original appearance and floor plan of the house. This work was accomplished with the help of architectural historians. The majority of rooms retain the bulk of their original architectural features and trim. Under floor radiant heat has been installed in most of the first and second floors.

All 20 windows in the home – windows that had been changed to more 'modern sashes' mid 19th century - are now outfitted with the proper 12 over 12 early 19th century sashes. Many layers of paint were removed from all walls and woodwork, and the 'original' colors, as determined by an in-depth interior finish analysis have been applied. A historic landscape architect has been employed to help determine where outbuildings should be rebuilt. Eventually the property will include a working farm, livestock barn and a state-of-the-art education center so that visitors can explore the past in a variety of ways. In the meantime, visitors are always welcome to return again and again to observe the progress of the restoration.

Environmental & Archaeological Studies

At the same time the exterior work was being done on the house, an environmental study was conducted. No major environmental problems were identified but large amounts of refuse and debris were removed to clear remnants of previous ownership of the property.

The State University of New York at Buffalo, Department of Anthropology, Archaeological Survey Division, was recruited to conduct an extensive survey of the entire property. During Phase One of a three phase project, archaeologists unearthed hundreds of artifacts, including evidence of prehistoric habitation. This investigation has helped to define the next phase of the project, currently underway, which includes the expansion of the archaeological excavation work and the use of ground penetrating radar to identify possible building foundations and other areas deserving of further attention.

The arrangement of buildings on the property in 1815-1825 is also being researched by a professional landscape architect and a historical research consultant. Research into documentation of homes and farms of the period is being conducted to determine the type, size and approximate location of outbuildings that would have existed on this property. Reconstruction of these buildings will then be initiated to more accurately represent the Hull farmstead.