Work on Sabine Hill progressing quickly

Published 9:21 am Monday, January 12, 2015

LS0111 Sabine Hill G 4x5C

Work on the historic Sabine Hill house is progressing as planned to return the home to its former glory.
Workers have been busy restoring the house built by Brigadier General Nathaniel Taylor and his wife, Mary, after the War of 1812.
“We had a progress meeting Wednesday and everything is on schedule,” Chad Bogart, an interpreter at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area said. “They are getting close to finishing the exterior.”
Bogart said most of the weatherboards on the home had been replaced along with all of the decorative woodwork. Workers are also replacing all the windows in the home. Bogart said the original trim surrounding the windows was salvaged and is being reinstalled around the new windows.
One of the two chimneys on the home had to be completely rebuilt, but 3⁄4 of the other was able to be preserved.
The western facing chimney had to be rebuilt because, at some point in its life, it was painted with a waterproofing substance that damaged the bricks. Fortunately, some of the bricks were in good enough condition to be used in the reconstructed chimney. Also, workers were able to save the fireboxes from the western chimney.
The eastern chimney survived the test of time the best, Bogart said. The only portion of that chimney that needed to be reworked are areas damaged during a chimney fire.
“They have been able to match up the bricks really well,” he added.
In the other outside areas, utilities such as electricity and water have been installed and the parking area is close to 85 percent complete.
“The parking area is going to look really nice,” Bogart said. “They used pavers to give it a cobblestone look.”
Bogart said some interior work is expected to start next week when workers will begin plastering the inside walls. However, he said most of the interior work won’t start until February.
“This will be the real interesting part of the renovation,” Bogart said. “The paint specialist was able to uncover some really interesting work.”
Bogart said a historic paint specialist was able to uncover original paint used in the home and examples of faux marbling paint techniques used to make items appear to be marble instead of wood.
During work on the home, preservationists also discovered the original kitchen had actually been a separate room from the main house. It has been returned to that configuration, but Bogart said it was almost impossible to tell what the original Sabine Hill kitchen looked like.
“During the renovation, there have been a few instances where we have been able to see what was originally there,” Bogart said. “When we got the house, the back portion was connected to the main house. By tearing out the interior walls, it showed there had been windows, which meant the kitchen was a separate building.”
There has been so much work on the kitchen over the years, it is hard to see what the original room looked like, he said, so workers will restore the home to replicate a traditional 19th-century kitchen.
“It won’t be original, but it will be closer than it would have been,” he added.
Bogart said there isn’t enough money in the $1.2 million state grant to pay for a visitors center with restrooms on the site, but it will be in the plans for future improvements.
“There is still hope for a visitors center,” he said. “When the house is complete and the grounds restored, it will be open to the public. Visitors will have to meet at Sycamore Shoals and then be transported to the home until then.”

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