Shutter Shop on Shore Road
As the only remaining 19th-century country estate where once close to two dozen stood in the Pelham Bay area, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum’s mission is to create a vibrant cultural site through preservation, restoration, and interpretation. With a tight budget and a three-story mansion to maintain, preservation volunteers have become a staple at Bartow-Pell.
After restoring the masonry walkways in the terrace garden, AiP volunteers took on a new challenge. Repair and restoration of the interior wooden shutters offered a completely different learning experience.
In 2011, a group of nine volunteers, from France, Florida and the New York metropolitan area, met at Bartow-Pell to learn and work under the guidance of preservation specialists from Fifty Three Restorations, a New York City-based restoration firm.
The interior window shutters make it possible to regulate sunlight and ventilation and are vital to controlling heat inside the house. Some of the windows and their accompanying shutters are impressively large – those in the double parlor are seven feet high!
Years of use and layers of paint have left the shutters in various states of disrepair: hanging from their hinges, covered with peeling or crackled paint, and hardware missing or painted over. Because the shutters are in constant use and protect the house and its contents, restoration was critical.
The volunteer team successfully restored 16 shutters. In doing so, they learned:
- How to deal with old lead-based paint as they stripped it from wood and hardware
- The best materials and methods to use for repainting shutters
- How to re-attach hardware in preparation for re-hanging the shutters.
In 2012, volunteers came to Bartow-Pell to continue repair of the shutters. Five volunteers from France and five from the Bronx and Brooklyn completed restoration of all interior shutters in the Lannuier bedroom. Ranging in age from 19 to 55, the mix of ages and cultures created a remarkable experience for all.
The project was been funded in part by a grant from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
During lunchtime lectures, volunteers heard from a variety of speakers, including Sybil Young, the preservation projects manager of New York City’s Parks and Recreation department; Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a non-profit group that advocates for New York City’s historic districts; and Arthur Scinta, a Pelham real-estate broker and architectural historian. They were also treated to behind-the scenes tours of the mansion, seeing rooms the average visitor cannot.
Ellen Bruzelius, executive director at the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, truly appreciates what Adventures in Preservation is accomplishing:
This is a wonderful way to not only be able to teach restoration skills to volunteers who are interested in preservation, but also to get important work done at our site.