Preservation in progress at Roseland Cottage

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Tue., Sep. 24, 2013
New shingles brighten gables at Roseland Cottage. Photos by D. Coffey.
New shingles brighten gables at Roseland Cottage. Photos by D. Coffey.

Roseland Cottage in Woodstock will soon sport a new roof, once a restoration project estimated at nearly $300,000 is complete. Workers have started re-shingling the northern gables on the Historic New England property. Site manager Laurie Masciandaro said the entire roof should be complete by mid-November. When it’s finished, the roof should look just like it looked in 1846 when Henry Chandler Bowen first had the house built.

Project manager Colleen Chapin said workers will follow the specifications drawn up by Bowen himself. His notes and drawings have been saved in the Roseland collection. The size of the shingles was given: 3 feet long, 6 inches wide, with a 9-inch exposure. Bowen drew a section of roof to illustrate his design.

That feature alone meant the job would take significantly longer to complete. Roofers had to set up an assembly line to clip the corners of each of the 12,000 to 13,000 shingles they estimated the job required. And where shingles met in the corners of each gable, workers had to fit each one by hand so they overlapped.

There will be no Tyvec, no roofing paper, nor are they using 40-year architectural shingles. Shingles will be fastened directly to the roof sheathing as it was done 167 years ago. “A lot of times we find we get better performance with the shingles by doing it the original way,” said Chapin.

Chapin and Masciandaro used the occasion to take visitors on a tour highlighting the massive project on Sept. 21. With flashlights in hand, they led guests through servant quarters and into the attic, where massive rafters framed the roof of the Gothic Revival cottage. Chapin pointed out the unusual architectural details of the cottage from its attic to its out-buildings.

Masciandaro shared what HNE researchers had gathered from documents stored and photographs taken while Bowen and his family occupied the cottage. She spoke about how the house was heated, where water was collected in a cistern in the attic, and how a furnace in the basement was built to take in fresh air through specially-fashioned ducts. 

“It’s important to keep properties in their historic condition,” said Chapin. “First of all, it allows us to understand how things were built. It’s respecting previous traditions. There is a lot of quality in the ways things used to be done. There’s craftsmanship in the work. It also helps us to understand our heritage and how we evolved.”

The huge project includes masonry work on the chimneys, the installation of lightning protection and restoration of chimney pots and ornamentation.

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