The finished interior

Coffeehouse Conversations - A Recap

In honor of the Coffeehouse opening, we wanted to repost links to all of the Coffeehouse Conversations videos. As you may recall, these short videos document a broad-range of parts of the project, and feature many of our staff members who have worked on the project. Many thanks to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Division of Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures, who produced all of these videos.

All of the videos require Adobe Flash® to view. If you don't have Adobe Flash installed, you can download a free version from Adobe's website.

Coffeehouse Conversations 10 - A Particular Charm

We've posted the tenth video in our Coffeehouse Conversations series; this episode is entitled A Particular Charm, and features Jim Horn, Vice President for Research and Historical Interpretation.

In this episode, Jim gives a summary of the project and its results. He describes the project's attempts to create as accurate an 18th century Coffeehouse as possible, inside and out. Jim also discusses the role of a Coffeehouse in Colonial society, as well as the role of Charlton's in the environment and experience of Colonial Williamsburg. Coffeehouse Conversations is produced by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's division of Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures.

The video is 4 minutes and 37 seconds in length, and requires Adobe Flash® to view. If you don't have Adobe Flash installed, you can download a free version from Adobe's website.

Room Names

As a small update, we just wanted to share the official names for the rooms throughout the Coffeehouse. On the first floor, the front rooms are named for their uses, while the room in the back is named for its location. The rooms on the second floor are named by what room they are located above, while the rooms in the basement are self explanatory.

More Photos:

Cabot's Quilt and July 11th Visit

First off, for those who might have been following the insulation discussion, I found a few good images of Cabot's Quilt on the photo site Flickr. The photographer's name is Alyssa Umsawasdi, and she took the photos while deconstructing her house back in 2007. Alyssa was nice enough to let me link to her images:

Secondly, I'd like to start coordinating details for those who are interested in visiting the Coffeehouse site on July 11th. I'd appreciate it if those who are so inclined could e-mail me at jmuse@cwf.org so that we can start working out the details.

Insulation?

On the June 2nd post, a few questions came up regarding historic insulation - specifically, what historic insulation might have been used in the 18th century in Williamsburg, if any. To try and answer these questions, I've included some information from Curator of Architecture Willie Graham, which previously appeared in the blog entry for March 9th:

Historically, no added insulation was likely used within the walls of the Coffeehouse. Virginians sometimes did use brick or clay “filling” within the wall cavity. Jefferson called brick filling “nogging” and that is the term historians commonly call this material. Many houses in Williamsburg had brick nogging (the Peyton Randolph House, for instance), and architects restoring the Thomas Everard House created an opening in the front wall of the parlor so that a shutter can be open to view this material. During the early years of the Restoration “Cabot's Quilt” was used for insulation (made of seaweed with a paper quilt backing), but this proved to have an insignificant R value and later fiberglass was adopted for most applications. The foam we are using on the Coffeehouse is a new trial for the Foundation.

Photos are from the Colonial Williamsburg collections.

Long Lost Podcast

We at the Coffeehouse blog just had a realization - although a podcast about the project has been available since last August, we've never made any mention of it on the blog. Our apologies for the delay.

Although it was recorded before most of the construction took place, the podcast still contains interesting information and insights about the project. It features Ed Chappell, who is Roberts Director of the Department of Architectural and Archaeological Research, along with Lloyd Dobyns. The podcast was produced by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's department of Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures. You can find other Colonial Williamsburg podcasts on our website.

Charlton's Coffeehouse Podcast:

Please note, Quicktime 7 (free) is required to view the image enhanced podcast.

Black and White Photos

We're taking this opportunity to share some very nice black & white photos of the exterior of the coffeehouse. The photos were shot by Curator of Architecture Willie Graham, who offered them up for inclusion on the blog.

Photos by Willie Graham

More Photos:

What will each room be used for?

A few weeks ago, we received some questions about how we're going to use the different rooms in the Coffeehouse, and how they would have been used in Charlton's time. We've finally gotten together some answers for those questions.

First Floor - All three of the first floor rooms will be used for interpretative programs. Each of the three rooms will be interpreted and furnished to represent their likely function in the 18th century:

  • Southwest room - This was the most public of the rooms, and was open to all customers. Within, patrons could drink coffee, read the paper, get drinks from the bar, and could probably receive some food (if not elaborate meals). In our reconstructed version, guests will learn about coffeehouse culture, and will get a chance to sample hot tea, coffee, and chocolate.
  • North room - This room is being interpreted as a private group space, which would have been rented for meals or meetings. In the reconstructed coffeehouse, it will be used for interpretation.
  • Southeast room - Similar to the north room, this room would also have been rented for meals or meetings; however, it would have been even more finely decorated. We will be using it for interpretation about coffeehouses and class.

Second Floor - We have no specific plans for using the floor at this time; because of the fairly narrow stairway, it is likely to be used as administrative or behind-the-scenes space.

Basement - The basement will include heating and mechanical space, as well as a modern kitchen space for preparation of hot coffee, tea, and chocolate. The beverages will be raised to the first floor in a dumb waiter. Additionally, the north room will be furnished as the historic kitchen, though we haven't planned any specific programming for it yet.

Thanks to Willie Graham, Curator of Architecture, and Ron Hurst, Vice President of Collections and Museums, for this information.

Answering Questions

We've gathered together answers for some of the most frequent questions on the Coffeehouse reconstruction blog.

Shingles

(Willie Graham, Curator of Architecture) The shingles are installed on what was called in the eighteenth century “cypherd sheathing” - that is, wide boards laid horizontally with their top and bottom edges beveled for a neat fit. This is the common way of sheathing roofs in Williamsburg, and we have evidence on surviving Coffeehouse fragments that shows this was the way our building was originally treated.

In the 18th century the shingles would have simply been directly nailed to these boards. In our case, since any underlayment will not be seen once the building is complete, we are placing a rubberized membrane called ice-and-water shield on the sheathing at eaves level, in the valleys of the dormers, at the ridge, and at the transition between the two roof slopes on the front (that is, in the most vulnerable areas of the roof). We have used lead-coated copper flashing above the crown, and covered the rest of the roof with 30 lb. felt paper. On top of all of this waterproofing we have added a compressible fabric called “cedar breather” that allows for a small air pocket under the shingles to dry them out better.

(Dave Coleman, Facility Engineer, as well as Construction Manager for the Coffeehouse) The sheathing is poplar boards cut on 45deg angles for overlapping joints. Modern ice and water shield roll material is installed on the perimeter of the roof sheathing, porch roof, and the roof peak. 30lb roofing felt is installed elsewhere. Directly beneath the shingles is a layer of modern "cedar breather" which prevents moisture entrapment which would cause the wood shingles to prematurely decay.

Insulation

(Willie) Historically, no added insulation was likely used within the walls of the Coffeehouse. Virginians sometimes did use brick or clay “filling” within the wall cavity. Jefferson called brick filling “nogging” and that is the term historians commonly call this material. Many houses in Williamsburg had brick nogging (the Peyton Randolph House, for instance), and architects restoring the Thomas Everard House created an opening in the front wall of the parlor so that a shutter can be open to view this material. During the early years of the Restoration “Cabot's Quilt” was used for insulation (made of seaweed with a paper quilt backing), but this proved to have an insignificant R value and later fiberglass was adopted for most applications. The foam we are using on the Coffeehouse is a new trial for the Foundation.

(Dave) We are using a modern foam in-place closed cell insulating foam and air infiltration sealer. This will be installed once all siding is installed and the building is reasonably weather tight.

Siding

(Willie) The siding is made of virgin growth bald cypress. The material was produced at E. Taylor Moore Lumber Company in Richmond. Our paint shop shellacked this material, primed it front and back, and placed one top finish coat on before installation. We are laying felt paper on the framing as the siding is being laid. We are also using a modern material to flash the windows and corners. None of this flashing will be visible. In areas where flashing is intended to show (such as on the chimney), we plan to use lead-coated copper to mimic the lead sheets that would have been used in the 18th century.

(Dave) The siding is applied over one layer of modern 30lb roofing felt with no sheathing. The felt is attached directly to the timber framing.

Paint

(Willie) A side note on the paint - we will be carefully replicating period paint recipes for the interior work. The exterior has been difficult because we want to use modern paints both for the sake of longevity and to help with the building's maintenance. However, in the Coffeehouse period of this building trimwork inside and out was largely painted the same color with the same paint. Trying to get an exterior finish that will match the color, sheen, ropiness, etc. of the historic paint has been challenging. Since the two surfaces come together at door and window openings it has been important to really nail this down.

We have had an added complication, in that oils on the surface of the cypress siding makes it difficult for the first coat of oil primer to dry - it might take weeks. To solve this we first painted the boards with shellac, which dries quickly, seals the wood, and allows the next coat to sit on the surface of the wood. This was the traditional method of preparing new wood for paint, and analysis by Susan Buck and Natasha Loeblich has demonstrated that was indeed the method used on our building.

Who is Doing What?

(Willie) Production of joinery is a shared effort. Historic Trades produced the frame, will be making the mantels, and will gauge and undercut the first-floor flooring. They hewed the lintel for the kitchen fireplace and will make some other miscellaneous parts.

Most of the remaining millwork has been divided between two shops - our own millshop headed by Tim Edwards, and a local millworker who also specializes in producing historic trim work, Jack Abeel in Disputanta, VA. The siding was produced by E. T. Moore in Richmond.

Painting is being done in house by our Facility Maintenance painters, with help from Matt Webster in Conservation, possibly with additional help from Historic Trades. We are bringing in outside experts who have experience making period paint recipes to work with our staff to make the paint and apply it in a period fashion (Chris Ohrstrom's paint services as part of Adelphi Papers), but in the end the bulk of the work will be done internally.

Masonry work is nearing completion. We had a combined crew of help from within and without the Foundation (including our Facility Maintenance staff and Historic Trades' staff). Ray Cannetti, a mason from St. Mary's County, MD, who specializes in historic work, has overseen this crew.

We are still working on assembling a team of plasterers. Our hope is that our own Facility Maintenance crew, supplemented by Historic Trades' staff, who also have experience making and applying lime plaster, will do the plastering.

Installing woodwork is being undertaken jointly by Historic Trades carpenters under the direction of Garland Wood, and Facility Maintenance Carpenters under the direction of Ernest Clements. This work is being coordinated by Ernest.

(Jay Gaynor, Director of Historic Trades) In terms of Historic Trades here at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation:

  • The carpenters are engaged in both building the structure and joinery work, such as mantles and some furniture. Joinery work will be done at the joinery shop we've set up in the old Deane Forge (across the street and to the west of the Wythe house).
  • The blacksmiths are making nails, as well as hardware, including locks, hinges, shutter dogs, and fireplace cranes. They may also work on additional building or kitchen furnishings.
  • The masonry trades are engaged in structural brick work, such as the foundations, fireplaces, and chimneys, and should be involved in plastering later this spring.
  • Other trades may get involved in the furnishing phase - for example, printers may reproduce appropriate copies of the Virginia Gazette.

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