Access to the property was greatly improved with the installation of the half-stadium front driveway. Prior to that there was only auto access on the south side driveway to the garage area. Completion date summer of 2001.
Drainage around the perimeter of the 1812 House was corrected by installing French drains on the east and south side of the building. Additionally, two berms were created on the south side of the house to redirect the flow of water away from the foundation. Completion date spring 2001.
A new roof was installed in November 2005. Two layers of asphalt were removed to expose the old tin roof which was intact and architectural shingles were used as replacement and to replicate the look of shakes. In this way the old cedar shingles in the attic are still visible and showing the chalk signatures of T. Helme and W. Helme along with the hatch door that allowed access to the roof. Photos of the tin roofing appear below:
During the winter of 2005/2006 the Summer Kitchen and Buttery are in the process of having layers of flaking paint removed from the horizontal and vertical paneling. Apparently the interaction of different paint compositions over the centuries has created a problem that needed to be addressed. Most likely the original wood was unpainted until either from soot created by the open fires and/or insect manifestations there was a need to whitewash the wood.
In May 2008 a section of rotted beam had to replaced in the lower portion of the east wall due to insect infestation. This was done by using an old reclaimed mantel. The entire section and receiving area were treated with preservative prior to reinstallation. Photos of the before and after pictures showing the rotted section and then the replaced section are below:
2008 was the year to preserve two outbuildings that were slowly rotting into the ground. The old shed directly behind the 1812 Helme House and the milk shed (ca. 1890) were raised and field stone foundations were installed to keep the sheathing from skirting the ground. The lower section of rotten sheathing had to be cutoff and in some cases had to be replaced entirely with old/antique reclaimed barn board. Close attention was given to size, thickness, type of wood and most importantly that it be hand hewn or rough cut. There are nine original beams in the building were left in tack but subsequent modern day beams (even CCA) were removed and replaced with old reclaimed hand hewn beams. Only the most interesting of beams were selected such as a beam that had been used as a part of a ladder in a barn. Also beams from a local summer kitchen/slave quarters were incorporated into the framework as support the shed.
The original floorboards for the most part are in good shape except for about ten that will need to be replaced with antique heart-pine floorboards. Powder post beetle damage was the problem. Amazing enough was the fact that the wider and older floor boards were not attacked by the feeding frenzy.
The process of hand cleaning the woodwork throughout the house by lifting layers of paint that it had obscured the delicate detailing of the moldings is proving rewarding. The original milk paint layer is being left in place and the interior doors are revealing their wonderful faux wood-grained finishes.
A detailed inventory and identification of artifacts and sherds found in the kitchen, glass and metal pits has been started and can be viewed by clicking on the ARCHAELOGICAL COLLECTION section.
1. Many of the interior doors show that they originally received a "graining" treatment which was a popular painting technique in the 18th and early 19th centuries. This was created by applying paint in a manner to replicate the appearance of more costly woods such as mahogany. The removal of the modern day paints that presently cover these doors will be a major project and require the expertise of a professional restorationist.
2. The cistern in back of the 1812 House will be opened to reveal any artifacts pertaining to life at Helme House.
3. Archaelogical site excavation of the 1720's House foundation located in the front of the 1812 Helme House is needed to glean additonal insight into the size, layout and construction of the original house.
4. Archaelogical site excavation of a foundation that may prove to be the original location of the 1700's Summer Kitchen that was later attached to the 1812 House. There are the remains of large set stones and the interior section contains broken brick, mortar, chinking, fragments of blue and white transferware and old thin glass. Also recovered was an intact HL hinge. The site location is behind the present house and shed and near the swamp.
5. In August 2005 stones creating a circle were discovered just north to the site referenced in Item 4 and may prove to be the cistern to whatever structure was on that foundation.