William Henry Harrison's Grouseland

Built in 1804 and home to former United States president, William Henry Harrison, this Federal style building was given its unusual nick-name thanks to the local abundance of grouse, a plump game-bird. Grouseland is a two-story, red brick building with a high roof and dormer windows in the attic. The first floor includes the parlor, dining area, and family living space; the second floor houses bedrooms and servants' quarters.

Harrison was appointed governor of the Indiana territory in 1800 and moved to the local capital, Vincennes, to serve his term. Shortly after his arrival - and at great personal expense - he purchased 300 acres of local land and began the planning and construction of his sprawling, Federal style mansion. Contrasting the simpler wooden homes in Vincennes, Grouseland resembled the homes of Harrison's Virginian childhood.

Possibly the first brick building in Vincennes - maybe the entire Indiana territory - Grouseland was built exclusively by local labor with materials sourced nearby. It served as a focal point for the territory's governance and social life, including regular meetings with local American Indian tribe leaders and government legislators. Major land acquisitions were signed at Grouseland, including the Treaty of Grouseland, signed in the Council Chambers.

All but Harrison's eldest son would leave Grouseland in 1812, moving to North Bend, Ohio. During this time, Harrison served in the U.S. Army through the War of 1812, eventually joining the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, and finally be elected the 9th President of the United States in 1840. Grouseland would remain in the Harrison family's possession until 1850.

Grouseland was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. It is maintained by the Grouseland Foundation.

On behalf of the Grouseland Foundation, director Lisa Ice-Jones, and Mesik Cohen Wilson Baker architect Tom Burgess are chiefly responsible for inviting us onto this incredible project. Together, their research into the building's exterior fabric will ensure that it's restoration is faithful to history, transporting museum visitors to the early 19th century.

The Durable Restoration Company will be responsible for extensive restorative work, inside and outside the building.

The dining room and council chamber will have extensive restoration work to return them to their original construction.

The dining room will see its fireplace and mantlepiece restored, receive new trim, extensive plaster repair, new period correct wall treatment, new baseboard trim, and finally its original wood floor will be revealed and restored.

The council chamber will likewise have a restored fireplace and mantlepiece, new baseboard trim, repaired plaster, and new period correct wall treatment. Taken together, the main gathering areas of the first floor will be accurately - and durably - transformed.

Besides these dramatic interior repairs, the exterior envelope will receive its own extensive repairs:

Although restoration isn't expected to conclude until June 30th, tours of the mansion are still available for anyone interested.

For an excellent, in-depth article on Grouseland and its on-going restoration, be sure to check out the Sun-Commercial's article. For fans of the comedy Parks and Recreation, Grouseland - and the Harrison campaign trail tradition - were featured prominently in the episode "William Henry Harrison."


In Progress

Revolutionary War Patriots Plaque Ceremony

April 17th a plaque honoring Revolutionary War patriots will be dedicated on the grounds of Grouseland.  The local Francis Vigo Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is organizing this event.  It is part of a national DAR effort to place one plaque per state through 2023.  Our Indiana "Grouseland" plaque will be the only one erected in the State of Indiana and it is the first one that will be placed as part of this national initiative.  The DAR pillars of organization are patriotism, education and preservation.  We are honored that this plaque will reside here alongside the Indiana Territory and William Henry Harrison legacy.  Around the base of the plaque are patriots honored by the local members and are part of their ancestry.

Lisa Ice-Johns, Grouseland Foundation Director

In Progress - Cont.

First Presbyterian Church, New Orleans, LA

Founded in 1818, First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans (FPCNO) is the oldest congregation in Louisiana and has contributed much to New Orleans history since the Civil War. Their original building, built circa 1819, burned down in 1854. Rebuilt immediately, services resumed in 1857. This new building, a 14th century gothic masterpiece, housed the congregation until a disastrous hurricane destroyed it in 1915. And again, it was rebuilt immediately, this time excluding their ultra-tall, but damage prone spire in favor of something smaller.

This building was used until 1938, when the United States government purchased the land for a new office building, moving the congregation uptown to its present location. Furnishings and materials, such as the original organ, bell, pews, stained glass windows, communion table and lectern, were all moved to the new church building, which opened in 1939.

Built of brick and trimmed in limestone, this new, gothic style church occupies a block of its own, bordered by Octavia, Jefferson, South Prieur, and South Claiborne Avenue. In 2005 Louisiana - and New Orleans especially - were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In spite of the heavy flooding, FPCNO served as the epicenter for rebuilding the local neighborhood, a massive undertaking that has been years in the making, as well as assisting the local homeless population.

The Durable Restoration Company is currently replacing the two damaged spires at First Presbyterian Church. We carved new limestone spire stems and re-attached them with epoxy, lime mortar, and stainless-steel rods. Jahn stone patch was used to patch in the chipped pieces. Once the pieces are fully in place, we'll age them to match.

Before & During


Takoma Park Presbyterian Church

Only a few years after Takoma Park, MD, was founded, Benjamin Franklin Gilbert donated land for the original Takoma Park church building. Several years later, this tiny congregation was beset by financial hardship and local Presbyterians took over the mortgage and ministry. By 1922, the congregation had moved their growing church down road to the stone building pictured below. Over a century later, Takoma Park Presbyterian strives to be a place of inclusion and social justice. But their roof has sprung a bit of a leak.

For this project, The Durable Slate Company will be replacing the church's slate sanctuary roof. Once complete, The Durable Restoration Company will restore the stone's exterior using historically appropriate mortar, preventing any further water infiltration, restoring the building's magnificent exterior - and interior - for another century of community service.

Biloxi Lighthouse

For this project, we cleaned the existing brickwork and removed the partial bricks that were surrounding the opening of the lighthouse.  The left side of the opening was laid using a combination of brick salvaged from the site and new brick approved by the project's architect.  We used historically accurate mortar to match the original bricks.

After restoration work began, our masons determined that the large variation in brick height - and proportionately smaller mortar joints - demanded a smaller brick. As such, all of the bricks used for this side of Biloxi Lighthouse were cut down to a constant height.

The Cotton Angel, Spring Hill Cemetery, Charleston, WV

Located in Charleston, WV Spring Hill Cemetery, the Cotton Angel has stood for over a century. The monument was vandalized in the 1970's and until recently had lost both hands, and had damage to its head and one wing.

Modeled after its twin monument in Dayton, OH, Durable crewman were able to reconstruct the angel's broken hands and make repairs to the damaged face and wing.

Restoring the Cotton Angel proved an economical and lasting solution, while adding to the legacy of this magnificent statue. May it stand watch a century longer.

Kyle Hayes and the Cotton Angel, featured in The Charleston Gazette

Westminster Presbyterian, Dayton, OH

Don Holton and DRC crewman have been working with Westminster Presbyterian, their engineer, and their organ company to rectify a major structural problem in the organ pipe loft located above the altar.

To this end, the DRC crew installed over a dozen steel beams and plates, along with over 1,600 engineered fasteners. These structural installations were needed to strengthen the wall that supports the largest pipe organ in the state of Ohio, The Casavant Organ.

In addition, the frescos, plaster columns, and plaster ceilings all sustained damage due to a leak in a roof drainage pipe. The Durable Restoration crew restored the plaster using a traditional three coat plaster repair.

After the plaster repairs had properly cured, our crew painstakingly recreated the original 1925 era frescos. The result is a seamless repair that is as invisible as it is beautiful.

Evangelical Lutheran, Frederick, MD

The Durable Restoration Company is undertaking a full exterior restoration of the front façade and two steeples of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

This restoration work is due to the deterioration of the exterior façade coating and stucco along with the brownstone details and metal components of the building including the finials on both steeples and the front lower metal roof which has been allowing water infiltration. We are very much looking forward to helping the evangelical church as stewards of this building preserve the structure and give it a life for generations to come. Durable Restoration will be undertaking this project utilizing all Secretary of Interior Standards for Historic Preservation along with appropriate preservation methods and materials.

Specifically we will be scraping and washing the existing façade, recoating it with a vapor permeable mineral coating which will allow the masonry to breathe and function as it is meant to while protecting it from weather and the elements. We will be craning down both finials and replacing them in kind. We will be repairing and repainting all of the wood details, windows and louvers on the front façade and repairing the handicap ramp. This functional facelift will give the building many more years of life than currently faces today. By using appropriate restoration methods, we will ensure that not only does the deterioration halt but also that our methods and materials do not bring any harm to the historic fabric of the building. Durable looks forward to being a part of the ongoing preservation of the iconic Frederick Twin spires.

Learn more about Evangelical Lutheran Church's new capital campaign, Preserving the Past, Building Our Future, via their website.

Julie Butler, Preservation Director for DRC: Mid-Atlantic, takes us on a historical tour of Evangelical Lutheran, Frederick, Maryland. Built in the late 1700s, Evangelical Lutheran has been a community mainstay, and even served as a hospital during the Civil War. It is presently undergoing plaster repair throughout and masonry repair within its steeples.

We are applying 24k gold leaf to the copper finals before installing them at Evangelical Lutheran.





88 State Circle

88 State Circle was built during a time of economic turmoil and is an unusually well constructed, late 19th century building with numerous fine and expensive details.

To restore 88 State Circle's historic brick façade, we used Arbortech's plunge tool to remove the improper Portland Cement. Grinders can cut too easily and might injure the historic brick. The Portland Cement was replaced with a more durable and historically appropriate lime mortar. Eroded bricks were carefully patched to match the original brick's color and texture.

A small but important detail, we cut the mortar's joint profile - the sealed space connecting each brick - to match the original historic bricks. This was an important feature of the original façade and well worth preserving. A mortar joint allows water to shed away and can be an attractive part of the wall's design, drawing the eye to the brick or mortar as desired.

Below, please find historical images of 88 State Circle, as well as a brief talk with Julie Butler, DRC Mid-Atlantic Preservation Director, on the difference between lime mortar and Portland Cement, how water can damage a brick edifice, and the steps we take to carefully restore historic brick surfaces.

Edgar Allen Poe House Museum

Built in 1830, the quaint building at 203 North Amity St. in Baltimore, Maryland once housed the famous writer Edgar Allan Poe.  His aunt, Maria Clemm, first rented the home in 1832 and lived with her daughter, Virginia, and her mother, Elizabeth Cairnes Poe.  Edgar Allan Poe moved in with his family one year later.  In 1835, Poe moved out of this house to move to Richmond, Virginia.  He had started his career with writing poetry, but it created little success for the author.  It wasn’t until he moved to Baltimore that he began to write his famous short stories.

DRC Mid-Atlantic recently finished up the exterior historic preservation maintenance work at the Edgar Allan Poe historic house in Baltimore. The scope of work for this project included masonry spot pointing throughout, wood repair and replacement, and a new coat of paint on exterior elements. We also installed a downspout on a gutter that had never had one! (you can imagine the damage that that’s been causing…)

Durable crews worked tirelessly to meet an unexpected late January deadline when we found out that the house was to be accepted on the United for Library‘s national registry of literary landmarks, the first such designation in all of Maryland! The building looked spectacular for its celebration on January 19th 2020, which was also Poe’s 211th Birthday.

Update: One year later, almost to the day, The Durable Restoration Company returned to the Edgar Allen Poe House Museum to repair deteriorated masonry in the basement. Years ago, a blocked gutterline had caused a flood, damaging the masonry. As before, repairs will be completed in time for Edgar Allen Poe's birthday, January 19th 2021.

Annaburg Manor, Manassas, VA

The Durable Restoration Company has officially started the highly anticipated four month restoration process of Annaburg Manor, Manassas, Virginia.  The City of Manassas purchased the land in 2019 with the plan to restore the historic structure and turn the property into a recreational park.

Annaburg Manor was built in 1892 by entrepreneur Robert Portner.  Since being built, Annaburg Manor has gone through innumerable exterior changes, some less durable then others, each reflecting the different styles of the occupants living there through the years.  The Durable Restoration Company (DRC) will work to restore the historic building back to its’ original façade.  Led by DRC’s historic preservationist, Julie Butler, the work will be done using accepted historic preservation practices and materials.

Our first step in the historic restoration process will be to replace the asphalt shingle roof to Vermont Black slate.

Below the roof, the formerly pink brick and brownstone façade – now a bright and peeling white – will hopefully be fully restored to its original warm hue, but only after rigorous testing. Currently, DRC conservators will use carefully fabricated mock-ups, evaluating different combinations of paint and removal techniques, to determine the closest possible match for the paint used and the least invasive method for removing it. The current paint coatings are leading to deterioration of the stone below and are not historically appropriate.

Completed, Annaburg Manor’s distinctive colors and ornate details will be a crowning achievement for DRC and a beautiful new social center for the city of Manassas, Virginia.

On December 9th, 2021 Annaburg Manor was placed on the Virginia Department of Historic Places registry and has been recommended for the National Registry of Historic Places.