Abandoned buildings and the lime cycle

Restoration field school continues to be interesting.  Today we began with a lecture about building materials (lath and plaster, wood, nails, etc) and then some nail identifications (ever heard of a burr? Did you know there are three main categories of nails: handwrought, machine cut, and wire nails.)  We had two field trips today after lunch. First we headed north on Route 29 to investigate a house that someone wanted Travis to look at – they claim it was a tavern at some point.  I’m not sure how long it’s been abandoned, but the doors to the first floor (from this side of the photograph) or the second floor (from the road side) were locked.  I’ll bet there is still furniture inside.  My oral history side wondered when the last time someone sat in the chair on the porch.  But about building investigation…it was a good exercise to look at ghost marks, bricks, floors, windows, etc.  See picture below.

investigation house

Then we headed to Virginia Limeworks where they create mortar, burn lime, and all of this crazy. It is amazing, the work that they do.  They are also amazing masons and have reconstructed the church at St. Mary’s City in Virginia.  Reconstruction, as in by hand using traditional put-log timber scaffolding and methods. It is just amazing.  The picture below shows what happens when you add limestone with water, called slaking.  It bubbles and spits things at you and steams!  Chemistry plays a large part in it, obviously. It is truly amazing what these guys know and how involved craftsmen are in preservation. I love it.  And they truly care about the projects. 

VA limeworks

Tomorrow we are investigating our house and documenting the outside.  Hooray for measured drawing or at least sketches!