Historic Structures Report
Norris Soldier Station
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A. Record Drawings of Existing Conditions:

See appendix for HABS drawings.

B. Photographs of Existing Conditions:

See Plates 10-25.

C. Detailed Description of Fabric, Materials, Construction and Existing Conditions Including Any Investigations Made Within the Walls:


The Norris Soldier Station has proven to be a maintenance problem because there is no winter and spring occupancy. Snow collects on the northern roof slopes, slips and causes breaking stresses on the roof overhangs. The snow collects in the northern courts and for months provides the water that seeps under the main structure to cause dampness and rot. Local maintenance could move the snows periodically. Other relief measures drainage and structural additions will be discussed later.

The present rolled roofing is quite inadequate and needs immediate repair and/or replacement to keep the building dry. Posts have been placed in various rooms to supposedly hold up the roof. They are of no particular value to the existing truss system. The engineering values of the truss system will be analysed in the final construction drawing. As of now, the roof system appears adequate.

There have been comments on insufficient foundations. The front main building shows only minor foundation cracks. The north wing lacks a concrete foundation and the bottom logs have rotted. The front porch of concrete has broken up badly. Whether the frosts or earthquakes have caused the trouble is academic.

The log work in general is in fair condition. That is, top checking can be filled with mastic and some rotted areas repaired without complete removal of the logs. The present chinking is 80% satisfactory. Trim, windows and doors need competent carpentry repair and masonry. Broken lights must be replaced.

The extended log ends are a decorative feature of this particular building and should be conserved and restored to maintain the building character. About 9 ends need rebuilding and several others need repair. There are several methods of splicing new ends in place which will be discussed later.

The bottom logs in the northeast and southeast wings are rotten because they have been on the ground or covered with earth. Replacement in kinds will not be too difficult because of the "poor" notching system used in the original construction. The notch is on the top of the logs.


The fireplace in the main room has been damaged by the earthquake of 1959. The original kitchen chimney was on the north wall. The cellar built in 1915 is partially caved in and would be of little use for even a complete restoration of the building.

The walls and ceiling in the various rooms are in fair condition. Holes were drilled in the floors of all the rooms to determine the location of the ground. The South wing and kitchen areas had crawl space. The middle room, main room and northeast wings varied from 10 to 18 inches below the finish floor which means that the 8 inch joists were quite close to the earth. The joists in the north room of the NE wing showed some moisture content of 25% and the underfloor relative humidity was 68-70% when the outside registered 35%.

The roof system needs a technical analysis of the truss system and the trusses developed on the ends of the rafter overhangs when icy loads slip off the roofs. To maintain the historic spacing of the rafter ends, without winter maintenance on the north roofs slopes, the rafter ends will have to be replaced and metal strengthening added.

Some roof sheathing boards will have to he replaced. The whole roof will be given a roof of wood shingles to match the buildings original appearance.

Both bracketed stove chimneys in the main east and west wings appear to have been repaired since the August 1959 earthquake. The main fireplace and chimney needs considerable repair. The kitchen chimney should be rebuilt in the original location as shown by the floor plan (Fig. 2).

The interior walls and ceilings need some repair and repainting. Although a water and waste system and electricity were not in the original building provisions for these utilities should be considered for fire protection and cleaning.

D. Architectural Description of Proposed Construction Activity:

The fine report of Aubrey Haynes of 1961 suggested that restoration of structures not included in this report. Some maintenance has been done since 1961 and more will have to be done before the total corrective work funds are made available. Photographs of plates 10-24 and the drawings plate 25 to 30 inclusive show the general condition of the structure as of May 1969.

Conservative maintenance was discussed with the Park in May 1969. This work included patching of the roofs, keeping the water out and away from the building and ventilation of the building so that all moisture intrusion is eventually evaporated. A study of plates 10, 11 and 12 and the preceeding section illustrates these problems. The supporting of the broken rafter ends with props is a temporary measure to keep water out of the building.

Drainage of the ground around the building should be taken care of immediately so that presistant snow melting and rains will drain under the building. This means that the ground level must be lowered 4 inches and more below the log work on the north side of the main east west wings and the ground sloped to cause natural drainage at least four feet from the building and to the wing corners.

The north wing logs should all be protected from the soil by a properly designed concrete footing, made deep enough to overcome frost action and provide a ventilated air space under the floor. This work would include the replacement of rotted logs, joists and flooring and provision for vent openings and access. It is recommened that the Root Cellar Access be retained without rebuilding the Root Cellar. The replacement of rotted joists and floors in the main wings, particularly the east wing is mandatory, venting and access must also be provided for.

The broken and rotted wall log ends can be repaired by fitting new ends held by pipe dowels or metal strapping. All the log work should then be examined immediately for rot and repaired. All the logs to be treated with pentachloraphenol. Chinking should match the existing chinking in texture and color. Cracks on the upper exposed quarter of the logs subject to water penetration should be filled with a flexible mastic of a color to match the logs.

The exterior windows, doors and trim all require carpentry attention, treatment with penta and final painting to the original colors.

The cracked concrete front porch must be cut back a minimum of 4 inches on the top and exposed sides and covered with a properly reinforced concrete slab on top and sides pitched to drain outward from the door thresholds and below the lowest log work. The concrete steps to the ground will have to be reset or rebuilt to the early photographs.

The winter window and door covers must be kept in adequate repair and properly painted. They should alo be easily installed and removed and stored when not in use.

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Last Updated: 21-Sep-2009