The job of Preservation
In order to upgrade the building’s electrical system, where should wiring be run? Should we cut through the walls and remove historic material to install heating ducts or pipes? Will a sprinkler system negatively affect the appearance of the house? Will state and local historians and preservationists approve of the work? Most importantly, will the public accept the decisions which are made to protect the house? To ensure that the best choices were made, the New Hampshire State Preservation Officer and the National Park Service historic preservation advisors reviewed and analyzed the project before it could proceed.
Work done before the project could begin
The project’s first phase started in October 2005, and took about two months to complete. The large collection of original furnishings had to be carefully cleaned and packed. Smaller objects were removed to collection storage, while barriers or special containers, were used to protect larger pieces from the dust generated by construction. The historic wall coverings of Japanese tatami matting had to be protected in place using plastic sheeting.
Packing of the collection represents a great deal of labor, but equally as laborious is the careful tracking and record-keeping associated with each museum object. Every object in a museum collection has a catalog number and anything that affects an object must be recorded on its catalog record. Throughout the entire packing process, strict accountability for the museum objects was maintained. Before moving anything, each object was photographed so that staff would be sure of its placement when the rooms were re-installed at the conclusion of the project. Additionally, every number was checked for accuracy against the catalog record and inventory sheets were prepared for the storage containers.
Given space constraints, time limits and the amount of work to be accomplished, the job will be difficult enough, however all the work must be completed without putting nails into any historic walls. Dozens of friction devices hold the barriers securely in place without injuring walls or ceilings.
With completion of this phase of the work, contractors began the careful and very limited construction required to complete the installation of the new utilities.
Because of the complexity of the project, the house will be closed through the end of 2006. Images of the interior of Aspet and some of the museum objects are available for viewing at the visitor center.
Last updated: March 31, 2012