Friday Find: 55 Union Street UPDATE

In this week’s Friday Find learn more about the restoration project at 55 Union Street.

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A lot of progress has been made at 55 Union Street since our first report (click here) posted in November. Do you remember this photo of the chimney?

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As we approached the house this week, smoke was pouring out of the chimney which lead us to believe inside things were going to be quite different. The photos below show the progress made over three months!

In November, Pen Austin (55 Union Street co-owner and master craftsman) broke through the chimney wall to gain access to the flue in order to repair the lime mortar. The repair work is now complete and the chimney’s original bricks are covered by plaster (see photo below).image1

The mantels, covered with many layers of paint, have been carefully stripped by hand and primed—ready to receive a final painting.

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During our visit, the project was in full swing with multiple projects going on in different rooms. A preservation carpenter, a graduate of the North Bennet Street School’s Preservation Carpentry Program, was restoring doors including repairing damage and correcting previous improper repairs to the original front door which will soon be reinstalled.FullSizeRender

Artifacts, including antique bottles, pottery shards, and newspaper articles, discovered around the house and in the cistern, were gathered in one room of the house (see video below).

Among the significant finds was the discovery that the rear ell was built at the same time as the front core of the structure. Rear ells are often thought to be later additions, but that is not always the case. At 55 Union, the age was discovered by looking at the consistent and continuous sheathing boards, timbers and sills found in both sections. Although in poor condition much of the ell’s structure will be reused. For example, the lath has been salvaged and will be reused where new plaster walls are needed.image4

The work is ongoing and discoveries are being made every day. A majority of the original windows were saved and are currently undergoing repair off site. The front elevation of the house is being restored to its original state with clapboards rather than shingles as evident in early photographs. The elaborate door frame has been lovingly restored and will be installed soon.The project is making fast progress so stay tuned for future updates.
– Marisa Holden
m.holden@nantucketpreservation.org