Meetinghouse in Strafford, VT

Project Overview

The meetinghouse in Strafford, VT has served the townspeople for both secular and religious activities since its construction in 1799.  In June of 2004, working as sub-contractors for Jan Lewandoski, we had the opportunity restore the steeple of the meetinghouse.  Two of the girts that support the lantern and spire had rolled inward and were were in danger of serious failure.  We restored the two girts and another on the floor below, that had significant rot, in addition to the bell deck and the junction of the roof with the back of the tower.  A wonderful account of the building of the meetinghouse entitled The Town House has been published by Strafford resident Gwenda Smith.  Among the accounts offered in her book, we found the names of Leonard Walker, who is known to have built the seven foot weather-vane and cut boards and lath for the meetinghouse, and his brother Freeman Walker who is also believed to have participated in the construction of the meetinghouse.  During the restoration we uncovered the carefully scribed initials of the two brothers.  Leonard’s initials were found upside down on a rafter beneath the bell deck and Freeman’s were found at the base of one of the octagonal posts.  We live for this kind of thing!

Project Pictures

Strafford meetinghouse
The Strafford Meetinhouse was completed in 1799.

The Strafford Meetinhouse was completed in 1799.
The original pews remain in the gallery.

The original pews remain in the gallery.
The girt with the rod attached to it has rolled on its tennons due to the weight of the sleepers that support the octagonal octagonal posts of the lantern and spire above.

The girt with the rod attached to it has rolled on its tennons due to the weight of the sleepers that support the octagonal octagonal posts of the lantern and spire above.
The load of the octangon had to be transfered in order to remove the girts supporting the sleepers.

The load of the octangon had to be transfered in order to remove the girts supporting the sleepers.
Structural staging supported I beams that were carefull threaded through the tower.

Structural staging supported I beams that were carefull threaded through the tower.
Jacks positioned directly under each of the eight posts transfered the load to the I beams.

Jacks positioned directly under each of the eight posts transfered the load to the I beams.
The new girts were free tenonned and three inch thick beech planks added support to prevent the new girts from rolling.  The iron dog was placed in the same position that we had found it.

The new girts were free tenonned and three inch thick beech planks added support to prevent the new girts from rolling. The iron dog was placed in the same position that we had found it.
One floor below the girts that had rolled, another girt had significant rot.  The floor joists were suspended while the rotten portion of the girt was repaired.

One floor below the girts that had rolled, another girt had significant rot. The floor joists were suspended while the rotten portion of the girt was repaired.
Here is a part of the rotten girt.

Here is a part of the rotten girt.
The repair piece is slid into place.

The repair piece is slid into place.
Like the girts one floor above, this girt has a free tenon and three inch beech planks added to support the girt.  The brace above the girt had a keyed tenon repair.

Like the girts one floor above, this girt has a free tenon and three inch beech planks added to support the girt. The brace above the girt had a keyed tenon repair.
The view from the attic up to the bell deck.

The view from the attic up to the bell deck.
The bell deck had two layers.  The top of the bell deck was rotting and needed to be reboarded.  The initials shown here belong to the sawyer who supplied the milled wood for the project.  These initials had remained hidden for almost two hundred years before we happened upon them.    The sawyers brother was the architect of the meetinghouse whose initials can be found at the base of one of the octagon posts below the bell deck.

The bell deck had two layers. The top of the bell deck was rotting and needed to be reboarded. The initials shown here belong to the sawyer who supplied the milled wood for the project. These initials had remained hidden for almost two hundred years before we happened upon them. The sawyers brother was the architect of the meetinghouse whose initials can be found at the base of one of the octagon posts below the bell deck.
The corner of the bell deck and two of the hip rafters had to be repared.

The corner of the bell deck and two of the hip rafters had to be repared.
Seth Kelley is seen from the bell deck adzing out one of the new hip rafters.

Seth Kelley is seen from the bell deck adzing out one of the new hip rafters.
Interior of the Strafford Meetinghouse.

Interior of the Strafford Meetinghouse.
 


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