This now-out-of-print book is for completists only, it’s from an exhibition at the Heritage (MA) Museum – back in the mid-1990s. Our friends Rob Tarule & Ted Curtin made the furniture and the period room installation. After the exhibit closed, the room came to a local living history museum where it was installed as an accent piece in the gift shop for about 18 years.
Brian Cullity’s book has a couple of shots of period houses that were the partial inspiration for the paint scheme, this frame’s most obvious feature:
Now that they are ready to tear into the building my shop was in, I got wind last week that the room was headed for the dumpster – so when that happens there’s only one thing to do. Go see Michael. As in Michael Burrey, local restoration carpentry guru, and the quiet, behind-the-scenes figure in the popular blog Blue Oak – http://blueoakblog.wordpress.com/
You folks have read the Blue Oak for a while – and most of those guys used to work at the museum. One by one they shifted over to MLB Restorations. They put ’em up, they take ’em down. Michael worked on the original installation, doing plaster work and other duties, then took it down the first time, then put it up at Plimoth, and now he & I started taking it down this past weekend. I got some shots of what he was doing, but from time to time he needed me to put down the camera & lift, heave & shift.
This shot shows the frame with its polka-dot ceiling; I had already removed the pine paneling on the facing wall. It has several runs of ogee-molded decoration; and ship-lapped joints.
You start where it ended, taking off the ceiling boards. Here’s Michael gently prying to test how they were fitted.
He ran around & numbered each board first…
Then I removed nails & screws (it’s a gift-shop installation – not necessarily period-correct, remember) – and stashed the boards out of the way.
Then down came the red oak joists.
These got numbered and stashed as well.
This was about the end of my camera work – here you see the end view of the summer beam; about 12″ tall, x I forget what thick. Godawful heavy is what it is. MLB estimated 600 lbs. So at this point, we set up staging to pry the summer up, then shifted it onto blocking on the staging. Then quit for the day. Took the frame down around the staging/summer beam elephant in the middle of the room. And waited for help.
This AM Michael, Justin and Rick & I started bit by bit easing the summer beam down onto blocking. No photos, I had a short shift because I bugged out to take the kids to the MFA & left the MLB/Blue Oak-ers to finish the task. We’ll see what happened.
The room is 18′ x 20′, would be a great addition to some enthusiast’s home. If someone’s interested, I can put them in touch with MLB. Then we can figure out how it goes back together.
Michael says these rescue demo jobs always have a desperate last-minute feature to them. As it happened, this one tied me up so I mostly missed a great winter storm. I would have loved to sit by the window & carve spoons again, but there’ll be other times, & this frame is now safe from the dumpster. Meanwhile I bumped into this hermit thrush right outside the shop on the 2nd morning – picking around the snowbank.
* the title to this post alludes to some moronic American movie that I fortunately never saw; but could not avoid the tagline after hearing it repeated endlessly. It’s applicable here, Michael gets calls whenever there’s an old frame that needs restoration, rescue or just plain ol’ examination. Remember this wood shop?
That was Michael–
5 thoughts on “Who you gonna call?*”
I don’t know where it will all end up, but I’m really glad you guys were there to keep it from heading to the dumpster and the landfill. Nice save!
As for your new workplace, do they have something ready yet? My wife and I are taking my girls to Boston in Mid-April this year (their first time) and I was going to try to weasel Jen into taking a day so that we could bring the girls to check out Plimoth Plantation. Knowing that a new Craft Center or something similar is up and running for you to work out of could swing the vote in my favor.
I’m glad you guys saved it. Things are unfolding pretty quickly at PP. Meantime, congratulations to Josh Lane, the new curator of furniture at Winterthur.
Wow (!) — I always wondered what happened to that room — and what a sad demise (!) Thanks for writing about it and posting the photos !
[…] About a month ago, Peter Follansbee wrote of a reproduction 17th-century room for sale in his post, Who you gonna call? […]