Chaquamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Season after season, the Historicorps organization brings a small, but passionate group of field instructors together with dedicated volunteers for the purpose of restoring and preserving historic buildings on public lands. These buildings are typically available for public use and have historical significance, but over time they have fallen into disrepair due to a lack of general maintenance or the absence of funding.
Two years ago, I visited my first Historicorps project site on Grand Island, Michigan. That project utilized some of Abatron’s wood restoration products for log repairs on a cabin built in 1901. During the site visit and product demonstration I was inspired by the attitude of the volunteers and impressed with their dedication to the cause.
This year- I was invited to a project in the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest, deep in the northern woods of Wisconsin. Forest Lodge sits on an 872 acre estate that was donated to the National Forest in 1999 by Mary Griggs Burke. The compound, originally a hunting retreat, is home to sixteen buildings, each in various states of disrepair. The Lodge has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2002.
Historicorps has worked at Forest Lodge on six separate occasions. The scope of work on this particular session included roof replacement, chimney repair, and historic door and window restorations. I was called in to demonstrate our LiquidWood® and WoodEpox® on the historic wood windows that had been exposed to the elements for far too long.
About 15 volunteers sat in on a brief product demonstration and a walk-through of basic epoxy repairs. After that we got busy patching and restoring a selection of sash that had been exposed to some pretty harsh conditions over the years. Most of the buildings at the lodge were built in the 1920’s and it’s possible that the some of the windows haven’t received proper maintenance since just about that long ago.
I spent the afternoon working with volunteers from Virginia, Texas, and Illinois. Together we were able to make repairs on at least six separate sashes. Some required more attention to detail than others. We had to utilize powdered pigments on some of the sash due to the fact that they would ultimately be left unpainted. Others needed touch ups on the rails and stiles, while yet others required some finely detailed muntin repairs.
I drove 12 hours, round-trip, to introduce a small group of volunteers to our products and to help save a half-dozen wood windows that only a select few people will ever be lucky enough to see. However- just like the volunteers at the project, I get a deep feeling of satisfaction knowing that these buildings will live on and continue to be available to the students, leadership groups, and countless organizations that utilize them.