October 12, 2012 Fixing broken bones: a structural engineer?s approach to preserving historic structures
Historic Boston is working with structural engineers John Wathne and Stephanie Davis of Structures North Consulting Engineers on the rehabilitation of the Alvah Kittredge House in Roxbury. Specialists in historic structures, we asked Structures North to write about their approach to identifying the structural repairs necessary in an existing building that has suffered from years of neglect and weather exposure. Here?s what Stephanie had to say:
As preservation engineers, our objective is to, when called upon, stabilize and reinforce a building with the minimum possible irreversible impact on historic fabric. Unfortunately, most of the buildings we work on require more significant repairs, such as the Alvah Kittredge House. The Alvah Kittredge House is an historic wood framed mansion in Roxbury, MA, with brick and stone foundation walls. The building has been empty for a while and has significant damage at it rear from a fire. Historic Boston is working to restore the mansion to its original glory.
The first step with any building is to complete a thorough survey of the existing framing elements, floor and roof framing, and wall studs. At the Alvah Kittredge House, this has been done during multiple site visits to the house as more framing was exposed. Because of the fire damage, and extensive water damage, we first needed to do remedial shoring of the building so that it was safe to explore further. A review of the building allowed us to locate the unstable floors, and shoring walls were installed from the foundation to the roof.