Saturday, September 22, 2012

Three-Quarters Done

So, how much more can I say about this roofing project? We're at the one month mark and it's 3/4 done. Hopefully just one more week to go to complete the upper slope of the north side and the re-siding and painting of the dormers. Since there isn't much to say, let's just start in with the photos. I actually managed to catch the two man crew from Ressler Construction at work on Friday afternoon (not to insinuate they're never working - just seems when I pop out at lunch they're also on break and they travel out from Lancaster County so they've left by the time I leave in the evening.)

After seeing that man standing on top of the roof I take back any thoughts I ever had that this would be a fun job, working with all that yummy smelling cedar outside in the gorgeous weather we've had of late -- if  you don't know our roof is very high.

Below is where the project stands as of the end of the day yesterday - the lower slope is shingled, the dormers are all stripped of their siding and have their roofing material on, so we only have the top slope to go, plus the siding and painting of the dormers, before the job is complete.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Two-thirds Done

And yes, it took some mad math skillz to figure out exactly how far along we were in the process - basically 8 of the 12 roof divisions (north side/south side x upper slope/lower slope x left of chimney/between chimneys/right of chimey=good thing I'm not an engineer) are now complete and we've been told they should be close to finished in another week or so.

I kind of like the mossy finish on the old shingles....

By the time the crew from Ressler Construction out of Brownsville was finishing up today, they'd completed the central section of the lower slope of the north side, which was just about another 1/12th of the roof, considering when they started they were only up to the second dormer.

As you can see pretty clearly in the above photo, they're also removing the siding from the dormers as they go. This will be replaced and painted the "new" shade of blue that will eventually grace all of the window frames and doors (review of the paint analysis done previously revealed the current color is just a shade off) and new crown moulding is being fabricated by the PHMC's Architectural and Preservation staff.

To see the roof project as it progressed, view the beginning of the project here, the continuation of the project here, and a comparison of the 1960s roofing project to the current one here. 

Hearth and Home: Seasonal Cooking in the Colonial Kitchen

Experience first hand the emergence of our unique American appetite, as the period leading up to the Revolutionary War brings together elements of English, German, French, and Native recipes! Distinctively taught in the intimate Summer kitchen at Graeme Park, the Hearth and Home cooking series will give participants the opportunity to prepare a full colonial meal over an open wood fire, as would have been enjoyed by the Graeme family during their time in the Keith House.

Each class is taught by experienced site interpreter Erin Agnew, and will focus on the seasonal availibility of foods in Southeastern Pennsylvania . Each class includes a hands-on lesson in open hearth cooking and the opportunity to enjoy your authentic meal in our equally historic setting.

Classes will take place on: September 29, December 8, March 9, May 11, beginning at 10:30 am and ending between 2:00 and 3:00 pm. Participation Cost is $55.00 per class, or $200.00 for the series of four classes. Pre-registration and payment in advance is required. Registration will remain open until two days before each class
To register, or for more information: 215-343-0965 or visit

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Second Saturday Photos: September 2012

"First Saturday after the First Friday Fotos?" Does anyone even notice when I miss my deadline on this if I don't point it out? Yes, First Friday Fotos were due yesterday and I was without camera or phone (blame it on a long day on Thursday and lack of sleep). So without further ado, here is this month's photo, taken around 10 this morning while it was still pretty overcast:

Love how pretty and green everything still looks despite the hot summer but can't wait to see a little color in those background trees. For a review of the changes that have occured in the landscape over the year, check out August, July, June, May, April, March, February, and January's "fotos." See you October 5. Or there about.

Roofing Now and Then

We mentioned in our first update on the roof that this is actually the third roof the state has put on the Keith House. The one currently being replaced was put on back in 1989 and before that the roof was replaced in the 1960s. Jim Houston, Preservation Construction Specialist for the PHMC's Architectural and Preservation Division, was recently able to track down the photos from the 1960s job at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and shared some scans of them with us.

Photograph from the Raley Collection, Athenaeum of Philadelphia. Used with permission.
Here is the contractor at work on the south side of the house: the side our current contractor, Ressler Construction out of Brownstown, Pennsylvania also elected to start with. I just love the bowler hat! So much classier then the baseball caps of today, don't you think?

The other differences are interesting to look at too - for starters, the observant among you (Herb, I'm talking to you) will have noticed the two dormers to the left: yep, when the state first acquired the Keith House, the south side had three dormers (the other was to the right of the contractor, out of view of the camera. Two were removed (see the Before and After Restoration photos here for more information on why this was done).

Our current project is being accomplished with a lift truck while in the 1960s they elected to use scaffolding and what looks like a pulley system to bring their materials up. They were also replacing structural members back then - you can see the contractor nailing new purlins to the rafters while the current project is just replacing the shingles.

The first job seemed to work right to left, while the current one started left to right on the lower slope, but is now going right to left on the upper - not that it makes a difference, but as long as we're doing a compare and contrast and all. Did anyone else pick up on any differences we missed?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

R.I.P. Dr. Graeme

Dr. Thomas Graeme, owner of Graeme Park from 1739 until his death in 1772 was responsible for the grand panelling that is found in the house today. He died on the property on September 4, 1772 on the day Elizabeth had decided to tell him of her secret marriage to Henry Hugh Ferugusson. She wrote:

I sat on the bench at the window and watched him coming up the avenue. It was a terrible task to prepare. I was in agony; at every step he was approaching nearer. As he reached the tenant house he fell and died. Had I told him the day before, as I thought of doing, I should have reproached myself for his death and gone crazy.

His obituary ran in the Pennsylvania Gazette on September 9, 1772:

On Friday last, September 4, 1772, died suddenly, at his seat at Graeme Park, Thomas Graeme, Esq., M. D., aged eighty-four years, Naval Officer of the Port of Philadelphia. He was descended from an ancient family in Scotland, and possessed all the natural talents of a Gentleman, improved by a liberal education. He was blest with a clear Head, a Masculine Understanding, and a happy, Sagacity, which justly placed him for Half a Century at the Head of his Profession, as a Physician, in this city. His Practice was fair and honorable, distinguished as well by his Medical Abilities and communicative Temper, as by a natural Philanthropy, that led him equally to the most affectionate and diligent Attendance on all his Patients, and to the charitable Relief of the numerous Poor who applied to him. He likewise long filled an important civil office, closely connected with the Trading Interest of this Province ; and, hating Covetousness, conducted himself therein with so much justice and Moderation, that he carried to the Grave with him, a character universally beloved for Integrity in his public Trust, as well as for the Amiable Virtues of Humanity in his private Station. From Temperance, and an extraordinary Vigor of Constitution, he attained fullness of Years. 

He was interred Sunday Forenoon, in Christ Church-yard, in this city, and the Esteem in which he lived, was testified by the great concourse of respectable Inhabitants of all Denominations, who attended his funeral.

He was buried at Christ's Church in Philadelphia, and his epitaph, written by Elizabeth reads:

The soul that lived within this Crumbling dust
In every Act was Eminently just.
Peaceful through Life, as peaceful, too, in death,
Without one Pang, he rendered back his breath.
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