May is museum month which is a great time to reflect on the many aspects that make up Westfield Heritage Village as a museum. One aspect of our museum is the “collection”. Our collection of artifacts, buildings and structures numbers in the 27,000+ range. The buildings, of course, are the largest objects that we take care of.
As many can relate, when owning a home there are always repairs to be made, to watch out for or even to plan for. Imagine having 40+ buildings and structures to worry over and some of them a couple hundred years old. At Westfield it’s an ongoing chore keeping an eye open for developing problems, but also wanting to maintain the historical integrity of the building or structure. It’s a balancing act making choices about what is historically accurate on one hand and on the other what is practical and potentially the wiser thing to do to save the building for the long term. Home ownership is never easy, but it can be very rewarding.
These past few months a number of projects have been tackled at Westfield. The Bamberger House dates back to the early 1800s and is a unique historical structure. It is a rare example of a two-story log home and considered one of the oldest surviving homes from the West Hamilton area. Since its restoration at Westfield the sill log started to rot underneath the front door. The combination of water splashing onto the log from the roof run off and moisture seeping through the foundation had taken a toll. The HCA carpentry team cut out the old timber and replaced it. A water-resistant barrier was also added between the concrete and wood.
During the original restoration of the Bamberger, more than 10 years ago, a temporary stair was built to the side door. In recent months these stairs started to lean away from the building and felt unnatural and uneasy to climb. Again, the carpentry crew tore the old structure out and replaced them with stairs that are level and feel rock solid to stand on.
Westfield has more than buildings to care for. There are also structures such as the caboose. This is a much-loved structure at Westfield for people of all ages. For many, it brings back fond memories as children watching for the red car to signal the end of a long line of rail cars. Today, many children are curious to hear about this house, of sorts, on wheels that followed all trains across North America. The caboose at Westfield needed a new timber at the rear of the car. Most of the iron on the backside of the caboose is held up by beams and bolts going straight through a monstrous timber that measured 6 inches by 12 inches. Water, again, sped up the rotting process. A cedar timber, actually 2 6 inch by 6 inch timers were joined together to replace the old oak one hoping that the cedar one will last longer. The historical design is maintained, with a small sacrifice in the type of material. It certainly smelled nice while working on it.
Come check out the repairs on your next walk through the village. We are open for walks and hikes 7 days a week.