Castle Construction Timeline  – 2015

Castle Construction Timeline – In the Spring of 2015, we had hoped to resume the great progress we had made with the lime plaster stucco, but discovered that the stucco had not weathered the harsh northern winter temperatures. Large areas had buckled and pulled away from the wood lath. We dug into areas that were still intact and found that the lime had not stayed intact in its bond with the sand.

We spent a great deal of time analyzing the mix and components. Then we made test batches and sections; each seemed promising. So we stripped large sections of the stucco and reapplied the new mix. Removing the bad sections of stucco from the lath was slow and laborious; we made special tools to speed up the process. And then we filled in the large areas with fresh stucco.

In the end, our work was for naught – the new mix was also compromised by the Winter. We consulted with experts in lime plasters and the consensus was that the lime that we were using was not of sufficient quality to give us the weather resistance that we need in this climate, and that lime of the quality needed was not available in the U.S. After further talks with others, including Boston Architect Andrew Dean, we decided to remove all of the lime plaster and replace it with a Portland Cement-based stucco. One of the reasons that we had decided not to go with Portland is that a bellows-like expansion joint is required every 18 feet in a linear plane, and I did not wish for that modern look. The expansion joint is to prevent the stucco from cracking. However, Mr. Dean informed us that the stresses are different on a curved surface such as the Castle tower and the joints were not needed.

Castle Construction Timeline  – 2016

In 2016, with renewed effort, we removed all of the stucco. Volunteers from Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire that had assisted in the previous removal and restuccoing appeared again and the tower was stripped to the lath. Areas that had not yet been covered with 30# building felt and lath were completed. Matt O’Brien of Bear Country Farm in Easton Valley brought two loads of recycled lath from a 19th century house that he was rehabbing in Littleton.

Castle Construction 2016 1

Castle Construction 2016 2

Through two generous donations specifically made for the stucco work, we were able to hire Sean Leahy (also a volunteer) to get the new stucco on the Castle. Working in July and August, I worked with Sean and we covered massive areas of the building. I continued into Autumn as late as I dared with frost a possibility. The Winter of 2016-17 has come and gone, the stucco has weathered temperature and storm, and the Castle is almost weather-tight with both first and second coats done and about 30% of the final coat.

Castle Construction 2016 3

The windows were undertaken during the winter months of 2014-15 and 2015-16 and all of the square and rectangular window frames and sashes were completed. These were constructed of Eastern White Cedar and Spanish Cedar as planned. They remain to be glazed.

Forming the administrative side of Tarleton Castle Arts has taken up much of the construction time in the past two seasons, as well as planning and beginning our programming. We are also breaking ground on our first purpose-built studio! Though progress has slowed on the Castle, it is not forlorn, as it knows that it is the center of TCA – not only for the activities that it will inspire and support, but because we are using its construction to teach, and provide opportunities for creative discovery, input, and contribution. Artists will have the chance to contribute to the design of its components with architectural installations of many types. The building will become
the work of many.

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