In 1981 we bought an 1853 Greek Revival house that needed a tremendous amount of work. Our new home was on Main Street in the small hamlet of Rural, Wisconsin (just South of Waupaca, WI). It had a name, The Quint House, that was on a fading hand painted wooden plaque tacked above the front door. The house and town had a story. Thus began our love of old public buildings and sacred spaces.
Along the way we learned about The Department of Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Structures. For old wood in old buildings it called for retention of existing stains and patinas. Working for a local antique furniture shop gave us the chance to apply those ideals. We created a more delicate process than the methods used by painters at the time on interior restoration and renovation projects. We then worked to create a rinse material for removing only the soiled finish (not the patina) that was non-flammable and safer.
We first applied our process to hundreds of Milwaukee residential projects. We graduated to dozens of 1920's Tudor apartment buildings with leaded glass buffets and solid oak paneling in the dining rooms. Next it was subcontracting under a nationally known church decorative company and finally we moved into public projects with a contract for The Wisconsin State Capital Assembly Chamber.
Architectural millwork restoration is difficult, dirty work. But the payoff is completely satisfying. We've spent time in some of the most beautiful old structures in the country.
When we've completed our work the wood looks old and well maintained- not newly stripped and refinished. It resonates warmth and age. It begs touch.
"Thank God you didn't do anything to the old wood" is the best compliment we can get.
- V Scott Beddome
"Wood is the most humanly intimate of all materials. Man loves his association with it, likes to feel it under his hand, sympathetic to his touch and to his eye." - Frank Lloyd Wright.