Preservation work often turns up more questions than immediate answers when one is digging around in an old building. While preparing the window openings for new or repaired sills, our lead carpenter, Noah Woodruff, discovered this small domino underneath the old sill. It’s handmade, and probably of whalebone, or maybe ivory; definitely not cow bone or wood. The “spots” are hand-drilled holes, and the divider between the two sides has been sawn or filed. The holes are not perfectly aligned and the divider is a little crooked. The domino is 2.7 cm long and about .5 cm high. We don’t know the date of it—probably late-eighteenth century, or why it was under the sill. Seems like it had to have been placed there deliberately. These are the kinds of artifacts that may tell us something about the lifestyle and culture of the early inhabitants—or the builder. As we learn more, we’ll post additional information here.
Fitting the window sills on the front of the house is a slow process, requiring measurement, double-checking the measurement, then trying the fit. Marking up the places that need to be shaved down and then a little work with saw, plane or chisel. The sills are made of white oak, like the originals. They were delivered with a coat of primer, but will soon be painted the original reddish-brown. Noah Woodruff, the master carpenter responsible for this part of the task, uncovered a small oak shim tucked back in underneath the sill, with traces of the original paint. It had been protected from the weather, and has a couple of hand-wrought nails. We expect more of the millwork will be delivered this week, including the original front door. It needed a lot of work, but instead of replacing it, we’re saving as much of the original woodwork as we can.
The mayor recently received word from the Governor’s Office that the Phillipsburg Area Historical Society/Roseberry House was awarded a $50,000 Garden State Trust grant for the purpose of preparing a Preservation Plan. These grants are highly competitive, require a matching contribution from the requesting party, and are limited to $50,000 in the category for which we applied (most awards are for considerable less). The Historical Society was able to match on a 1:2 basis because of the generous grant from the Warren County Municipal & Charitable Conservancy Trust a year ago. The Preservation Plan will include further historical analysis in an attempt to determine the date of construction, paint and mortar analysis, an engineering/structural analysis, and preparation of a sustainability report. Architect Michael Margulies will be directing the preparation of the Preservation Plan.