Stratford Hall Smokehouse Invisible Timber Consolidation
Northern Neck, VA: 1994
The 18th century Stratford Hall smoke house is timber framed with brick nogging infill that has subsequently been covered with siding. Termites had attacked one corner of the building, but only one timber was failing to carry its load. By 1994, it was clear to me that it was time to take timber repair to another level. If a mural were on a deteriorated substrate, we would not replace the mural. Yet with woodwork we too often save the carved pieces and replicate the timbers. The tooled surface of an historic timber has important information that is lost when it is indiscriminately discarded. Replacement with a comparable timber is also expensive. The opportunity is always there to push the envelope, but we usually go with what has been done before. The largely unfunded R&D that the Stratford regents authorized on this corner brace paid great dividends in developing a new means of repairing valuable historic timbers. Merging techniques developed for stone conservation with epoxies for wood, the exterior of the termite-damaged timber was conserved imperceptibly, allowing a new wood core to carry the loads.