With grading complete, the past 2 weeks have been filled with lots of concrete and steel.  As a woodworker, I have not been so drawn to the dirt and concrete part of past construction projects as much as the framing and finishing work.  However, I descended from block masons on my mother's side (a cooper and blacksmith as well, more on that later) and as such I found myself naturally drawn to this work over the past 2 weeks. 

Dixieland Walls of Grovetown, GA was hired to handle the footings and slab.  Brett Cathey and his team from Dixieland Wall layed out the footings, dug them, installed the rebar, and poured them.  In the midst of the work performed by Dixieland, Borden Pest Contol came in to provide termite treatment.   
Picture
Laying out the footings.
Picture
Excavating the footings.
Picture
Installing the reinforcing rebar.
Picture
Footings set up and ready for inspection.
Picture
Bordens Pest Control stepped in to treat the footings.
Picture
With a little assistance from Mabus Brothers Concrete and Ashmore Concrete Contractors (Pump Truck), the guys from Dixieland Walls poured the footings.
Picture
Completed Footing.

D & J Construction and Design of Greenville, SC was brought in to install the block wall.  Their first task was to lay two courses of block to serve as the base for the poured slab.

Picture
Footing with 2 courses of block.
 Dixieland Walls returned to back-fill the slab area, dig the piers for the basement posts,  install the vapor barrier and reinforcing wire and pour the slab.
Picture
Picture
Slab ready for inspection.
Picture
The morning of the slab pour, Shop design engineer, Wayne Moore stopped by the site to check on our progress. Wayne (left) is pictured talking with Park member and Shop benefactor, Don Zippler (right).
Picture
In order to pour the slab, a pump truck was needed to convey the concrete up the hill.
Picture
Arm of the pump truck reaching up the hill to the pour site.
Picture
Slab being poured.
Picture
Slab being finished with a trowelling machine.
Now that the slab is complete, the team from D & J Construction and Design started constructing the block walls.
Picture
Walls of the basement storage room are started.
Picture
The front wall is constructed with piers for the floor system and the front porch.
Picture
The block masons close in on finishing the basement walls.
One of the great pleasures of getting involved with the Living History Park in North Augusta has been getting a feel for the people and businesses of this great community!  In pulling this this blog post together, I was amazed at the number of local businesses that provided generous discounts or outright donations of their materials or services for this phase of our construction project.

Your generosity is impressive and greatly appreciated, especially in light of the current economic times.  Listed below are the suppliers.  You can click on many of their pictures and link directly to their websites. 
Picture
Macuch Steel, supplier of rebar.
Picture
Borden Pest Control, supplier of termite treatment.
Picture
Mabus Brothers Concrete, supplier of concrete.
Picture
Ashmore Concrete Contractors, supplier of pump trucks.
Picture
Augusta Concrete Block Company, supplier of concrete block, cement, sand, and block ladder.
Well, next week we move on to the WOOD - after all, we are a Cabinetmaker's Shop!  The floor system will be going in, the walls going up, and the roof going on!

We are still in need of donations to complete the Shop, so if you feel so inclined to make a donation, send me an email at Chris@NewWindsorShop.org

Chris
 
On the morning of August 2, 2011, we broke ground on the New Windsor Cabinet Shop at the Living History Park!  Park members & volunteers, Paul Muckenfuss of Augusta, with John Douglas and Mike Gibson of North Augusta, worked to clear the land in preparation of excavating the basement.  Paul took the first shovel full of dirt off the site at 7:34 AM.  Work progressed throughout the 100+ degree day with the felling of 5 trees, trimming off the limbs, and cutting up the remainder for firewood.   We were joined by several youth volunteers (Lindsey, Rebe, Heather, Kim, & Dan) who stacked the firewood and cleared  the tree limbs from the site.
Picture
Paul Muckenfuss taking the first bucket of dirt to commence the construction phase of the Shop.
Picture
Mike Gibson (foreground) and John Douglas (background) trim limbs.
Picture
Tree limbs piled up in preparation for mulching.
As mentioned in prior posts, the City of North Augusta is a supportive partner in the daily operations of the Park.  They have supported this new development effort by providing members of the Parks & Recreations Department to mulch the tree limbs and provided a dumpster from the Department of Sanitation Services to haul off the tree stumps. 
Picture
Members of the North Augusta Parks & Recreation Department mulch the tree limbs from Lake Avenue.
Picture
Paul loads a tree stump into the dumpster provided by the North Augusta Department of Sanitation Services.
Once the site was cleared, we were ready to start work excavating the foundation.  This ended up being a much larger task than I had envisioned.  Paul made good progress working for 2-days digging with the backhoe and removing dirt with the bucket.   On Saturday and Sunday, Tom Lawhead & Greg Burt came in to complete the job.  With Tom operating the backhoe and Greg running a Bobcat, the two were able to work in concert to carve out the remaining earth.  It was fascinating to watch these 3 professionals operate these machines like they were extensions of their bodies.  
Picture
Paul digging with the backhoe.
Picture
Greg Burt was able to move a mountain of dirt with the Bobcat.
Picture
Tom Lawhead takes his turn digging what ends up to be a deep hole in the slope of the upper hill.
Picture
Tom & Greg worked as an efficient tag-team to dig up the dirt and move it out.
By the end of Day 6, the excavation was complete and we were ready to start work on the footings.  The soil at grade level is dense hard clay with no signs of any water.  This was a relief, as the park is littered with natural springs that could have thrown a real wrench in the foundation plans had we found water. 

Picture
Excavation complete on Sunday afternoon. next week, we move onto the foundation.
A special thanks goes out to Johnny Beam and Beam's Contracting for loaning us the use of his backhoe during this past week.
Picture
Its been a long hard, hot, workweek and we are well on our way.   I am looking forward to completing the footings, slab, and block walls next week.

Chris
 
Over the past few weeks, we have been working towards meeting all of the pre-reqs for the Building Permit.  We are down to two critical items: the Site Plan and the Electrical Plan.  

Dan Rickabaugh, Senior Civil/Structural Engeneer, of Moore & Associates Engineering and Consulting, stepped forward to develop a Park-wide Site Plan.  Not only did this include placement of the New Windsor Cabinet Shop on the plat, but it also included all of the existing structures, utilities, boundaries, and roads.  Rick's Site Plan will be a useful tool for the Park as we contemplate additional development.  I am so grateful for the expertise and ongoing support of our friends at Moore and Associates.  

Long-time Park Friend and Electrical Engineer, Barry Calloway, provided a complete Electrical Plan for both floors for the new Windsor Shop.  Barry is another local professional who has helped out the Park by providing certified plans on multiple projects.  This Electrical Plan was the last document that we need to complete our Building Permit application.   After several days of review and a few questions of clarification, the City of North Augusta issues Permit Number B11-0336 for construction of the Shop!  Permit in hand, we are ready to break ground!

Picture
Dan's Site Plan.
Picture
Barry's Electrical Plan.
Picture
Our Permit to proceed!
 
I just received word that out grant proposal to the Aiken County Accommodations Tax Advisory Board was accepted.  We were awarded a $10,000 grant for our construction project!!!  As I described in my April 12, 2011 blog post, the Accommodations Tax Advisory Board has been very supportive of our efforts at the Park over the years and it looks like they will be "accommodating" the New Windsor Shop as well!

The support of individuals, companies, and the local government across this great community has been overwhelming.  I am truly blessed to get to be apart of it.

Thank you Aiken County!

Chris 
 
We are picking up momentum as we move towards summer construction and our fall Grand Opening.   

We are close to being ready to make an application to the City for the Building Permit for the New Windsor Shop construction.  We have the needed blue prints and are in the process of having a site plat and electrical plan finalized. Once we have those, we will be ready to proceed. 

Recently, I was walking around the building site, inside the staked off area that  Mike, Lynn, and I put up back in February to outline the Shop's perimeter.   What was a clean forest floor of winter back then has evolved into a thick lush jungle of dense summer greenness!   The once fresh, straight stakes and taut string with flagging have tilted, drooped, and faded in the oppressive humid heat of the summer.   Somehow, 21st century air-conditioned woodworking space sounds like a whole lot more fun than 18th century heat, humidity, and mosquitoes.

A few weeks ago, we had Len Foster from the City of North Augusta Water Department come out to locate a water line that traverses the upper hill of the Park.  There is a concern that the water line may come too close to the Shop building site, in which case, it will have to be moved.   After hooking up a fairly sophisticated locating device and walking about a bit, Len was able to locate the line.  Unfortunately, that line crosses right through the upper right corner of the building.  Looks like we have a little utility relocation work to do!  The irony of this one is a bit funny.  We are talking about relocating a water utility that provides indoor running water so we can construct an 18th century style building. 
Picture
Len Foster, from the Water Department, hooks up the transmitter for the water line locator to the water meter.

Picture
Working his way down the hill from Lake Avenue towards the Barn, Len detects the water line and marks it.

Picture
Arghhh.... A direct hit! Len is marking the path of the water line as it passes through the shop.

At our Olde Towne Preservation Association board meeting last night, the board approved David McGhee of Sitec Construction to serve as our general contractor for the Shop construction project.  David is an old friend of the Park who has often lended a helping hand.  He laid down the floor in the tavern, made modifications to the Keeping Room, corrected drainage problems and has hauled tons of sand, rock, and dirt over the years.

David has developed a preliminary cost estimate for the project that we will review and refine in the coming weeks.   From this cost estimate, we'll be able to match up materials that have been donated and identify the financial shortfall needed in order to get the shop completed by September.

Picture
Picture of me, Lynn Thompson (Old Town Preservation Association President), and David McGhee (New Windsors Shop General Contractor)
We feel fortunate that a builder of the reputation and caliber of David has come forward and we very much look forward to working with him over the next few months to make this dream of ours take shape.

Soon we will be breaking ground with saws flying and hammers swinging!

Chris

 
Today, Joanne & I had the pleasure of meeting with our friend, Dale Couch, who is the  Curator of the Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts at the Georgia Museum of Art.  Our visit to the Museum, which is on the campus of my alma mater, The University of Georgia, centered around Dale's invitation for me to join him in developing a paper and presentation for the Georgia Museum of Art's biennial Henry D. Green Symposium, Feb. 2–4, 2012.  Wow... what a fantastic opportunity! 

Our project will focus on an analysis of Georgia's oldest known documented Windsor Chair, which is part of the permanent collection at the Museum, and other similar chairs that are believed to be from within the region.  This collaboration will leverage Dale's years of decorative arts experience and vast knowledge of early chairs from the region with my experience as a Windsor Chairmaker, Cabinetmaker, and period furniture enthusiast.  We will be combining our very different backgrounds to form, "Where Scholar Meets Maker."

The opportunity to get my hands on a chair of this stature to analyze, measure, and reproduce it for historical research and to present it to an interested Symposium audience is exciting!  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be involved with a museum at this level.


Picture
This chair was acquired by the Georgia Museum of Art in the Fall of 2010 and is the focus of our analysis and presentation for the Symposium. Photo courtesy of Brunk Auctions and the Georgia Museum of Art. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Levon Register.

But what does all of  this have to do with New Windsor?  In a word - lots.  For starters, as mentioned above, Dale is a true scholar of early chairs of the Georgia Piedmont, however, what I didn't tell you is that Dale is a retired Senior Archivist from the Georgia State Archives with an immense knowledge of both the broader geographic area and history.  His understanding of the area, as well as period furniture forms, runs deep and rich.  So I ask you, if you were to venture out to create an authentic 18th century cabinetmaker's shop in North Augusta, SC that was as true to its origins as it was back in the day, wouldn't it be nice to know someone who had an interest and expertise in the Savannah River Basin, the history of the people who emigrated to that region, and knowledge of the period furniture forms that existed in the area?   Wouldn't it also be nice if this person understood the more "advanced" furniture forms that existed in the more urban populations centers like Charles Towne AND had the discernment to know the difference between the two in order to authentically represent the furniture, the people and the time period of New Windsor.  But who could do that?  In a word - "Dale".

The opportunities to collaborate with Dale extend way beyond the 2012 Symposium.  Our recent conversations have already provided clarity of thought on furniture from the Augusta area.  I hope to foster a relationship between the New Windsor Shop and the Henry D. Green Center for the Study of the Decorative Arts that will help both groups better understand the furniture of the 18th Century New Windsor/Augusta area - working hand-in-hand as Scholars and Makers.

Hope to see you in Athens for the Symposium in February 2012.

Chris
 
Today, the Grainger Foundation awarded the North Augusta Living History Park $5,000 towards the construction of the New Windsor Cabinet Shop!   Greg Clark, the local GRAINGER Branch Manager and long-time supporter of the Park, made the award recommendation.  Over the years, GRAINGER and Greg have done all they could do to assist us in meeting our ongoing maintenance needs and todays actions speak volumes about their commitment to corporate citizenship within our community.

Below is a photo of Greg presenting the $5,000 check to many members of the Living History Park.  I, unfortunately, could not be there to be a part of receiving this generous gift.

Picture
Top row: Greg Clark, Lynn Thompson, John Douglas, Mike Gibson. Bottom row: Brenda Bancroft, Bob Kaltenbach, Pam Schmidt, Ike Carpenter.

GRAINGER's corporate slogan, "FOR THE ONES WHO GET IT DONE," came full circle today as they became the ones helping to "GET IT DONE" at the Living History Park.  We are grateful for their contribution and look forward to having the entire GRAINGER family come visit the Shop in the fall!

Chris
 
Today, I had the opportunity to be a part of presenting the grant proposal we developed for Shop funding to the Aiken County Accommodations Tax Advisory Board.  As I described in a prior post, these grants are available to Aiken County non-profit organizations who promote tourism related activities and events that draw patrons from beyond 5o miles.  The grants are funded from the accommodations tax and this year the Advisory Board has $100,000 to award.  

Over the years the Aiken County Accommodations Tax Advisory Board has been very supportive of the Park's growth and development by awarding grants in support of the Rogers Ordinary, the Livery, and most recently, a significant grant to help fund the construction of the Colonial Barn. 

Dressed in Colonial clothing (I would wear them every day if Joanne would let me), Lynn Thompson and I presented our plans for the Shop to the Board.  We had the opportunity to share the blue prints for the building, plans for the programs we will host, and show examples of the woodworking projects that we will create from within the Shop.  All-in-all, I think the concept was well received.  

So now, we wait and see how well we fare against the other worthy candidates.

Chris
 
Over the past 2 months, I have set my sights on meeting with various woodworking organizations in Georgia and the Carolinas to spread the word on what we have planned at the New Windsor Cabinet Shop in North Augusta, SC.

In February, I met with the Peach State Chapter of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers (SAPFM) in Roswell, GA of which I am a member.   During our Winter meeting, I covered an overview of the Park and the Shop and expressed a need for participation in the form of donations of period furniture elements such as various leg forms and carving examples, tools, materials, and involvement of period demonstrators.  The response was very positive.  Individual Georgia SAPFM members indicated an interest in providing or provided: a period tool chest, a Ball and Claw carved leg, several pieces of walnut and cherry wood, a custom made 18th century style handsaw and one person volunteered to demonstrate at the site.  I was also encouraged when one member provided thoughtful input on contacting the Mid-West Tool Collectors organization to seek tool donations. 

A Friday night engagement in March where I was to present the Shop to the Woodworkers Guild of Georgia had to be canceled due to a conflict at work.  So, I will be making my way back to this local group of which I am a member to share with them an update on where we stand with the Shop.  In October of 2009, I presented a morning program on Windsor Chairmaking for their Fall Symposium for which the group made an honorarium donation to the shop's construction.  This was my first donation and one that I am very grateful for!

While in Raleigh, NC yesterday to deliver a chair that I made for the North Carolina Museum of History's new "The Story of North Carolina" exhibit, I had the opportunity to stay over an extra day to join the Carolinas chapter of SAPFM Spring meeting scheduled for today.  Dave Powles, the group's program coordinator, graciously made 10 minutes of the groups agenda available for me to talk about the Shop.  Dave also suggested that the information would be of interest to the Greenville Woodworkers Guild, so I will be contacting them and requesting the opportunity to speak to their group.

Help spread the word!

Chris
 
Turning over every rock of financial possibilities involves approaching professionals to volunteer their time, patrons to pledge their financial support, woodworking peers to lend a helping hand and grantors to provide GRANTS!

Over the past few weeks I have been working with Lynn Thompson.. OK check that.. over the past few weeks Lynn Thompson has been writing a grant for the Shop to be submitted to Aiken County, South Carolina and I have been helping... kind of.  Aiken County collects Hotel /Motel Tax dollars that are awarded via grants to organizations that work to increase tourism within the county.  Events at the Living History Park certainly do that and the New Windsor Shop should have a positive effect on tourism as an additional living history venue.  So, we are working towards submission of the Aiken County grant and I am providing the words to describe the intention of the Shop venue and, more importantly, the fabulous program we will host.

In all truthfulness, "Cabinetmaker Shop" is a bit of a misnomer.  In reality, we set our sights on the Shop becoming a home for a spectrum of colonial wood trades.   Cabinetmaking, yes, but also Chairmaking, Joining, Carpentry, Coopering, Boxmaking, and other wood trades as artisans surface over time.  So, we will focus more on an all-encompassing view of wood trades from the colonial era rather than perfecting the single trade of Cabinetmaking.  However, we will take care to focus on period appropriate activities relevant to the more rural Augusta area of the late 18th Century while contrasting it to the larger population centers of Charleston, Philadelphia, New York & Boston.  It should make for a very dynamic living history venue where something new will be going on all of the time!

We plan to facilitate volunteer participation by making period appropriate clothing and tools available for people who are interested in joining in.  If you have an interest in becoming involved, contact me at Chris@NewWindsorShop.org.  

Chris