Historic woodwork repair of the DAR Clapp house

Car crash damages historic house.

This is a project involving historic woodwork repair.

On the night of December 4th, 2011 a car left South St. in Northampton, MA and drove thru the gable end wall of the historic Ebenezer Clapp house. Built in 1753, it is currently owned by the Betty Allen Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.



The vehicle damaged significant amounts of the original woodwork in the dining room and central entry hall. In addition, the central stair, a significant piece of period woodworking, was displaced slightly.

I was contracted to perform repairs to the damaged interior woodwork using as much of the original work as could be salvaged. A separate contractor performed the exterior restoration quickly after the accident.

A slide show of the job is at the end of this discussion.

Documenting the existing condition and dis-assembly of the damaged work was the first phase. Once the old work was out, I was able to jack and winch the stair carriage back into position and reinforce it to stay there.

At this point I proceeded to reassemble the puzzle of broken pieces and catalog what needed to be remade. Since the building had settled substantially around the central chimney, the wainscot paneling and doors adjacent to the chimney were skewed from repairs made over the years. The task was to restore the room to its pre-crash condition, so this out of squareness needed to be accommodated.

Custom cutters were made to reproduce damaged molding profiles. Broken rails and stiles were remade. Raised panels were repaired and in several cases remade. Hardware was carefully bent back to original form.

The walls were a calico of new and old work at the end. A plastering contractor did the needed repairs to the walls and a painter redid the entire room to a color scheme found as a base layer on the original work.