Acorn Hall's Exterior Restoration Is Complete
Acorn Hall’s exterior restoration, which represented nearly seven years of planning and consistent construction, was completed in 2019 as final phase projects were finished, most noticeably, the new paint scheme. Taken together, the $1.5 million restoration of Acorn Hall included, in addition to the paint, the installation of a new slate roof, built-in gutter system, TCS flat roofs on the back porches and tower, repairs to the foundation, stabilization of chimney structures, repairs to the underground drainage system, and the repair or re-manufacture of decorative and structural wooden elements all around the building.
As it is by far the striking change to Acorn Hall exterior, the repainting was the most anticipated project. Acorn Hall now reflects its historically accurate 1860-1880 paint scheme, the colors Augustus Crane chose for his recently renovated home in “the country,” located about 2 miles from Morristown Green. Its authentic colors allow MCHS to better interpret this local neighborhood in mid-19th century, before the Civil War, before the millionaires… at a time when a man of modest means could farm his nine-acre property walking distance from Morristown center.
As we celebrate this milestone, we’d like to thank the grantors, donors, and supporters who made the whole project, and its nearly $2 million budget, a reality.
MCHS Recognizes Our Partners:
- Morris County Historic Preservation Trust
- New Jersey Historic Trust
- New Jersey Cultural Trust
- 1772 Foundation
- Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders
- Benjamin Moore
- Ricciardi Brothers
- The Estate of Lowell Ray and Janet Anderson
- The Estate of James and Joy Greco
- The Estate of David Holdsworth
- Campbell Family Foundation
- Connolly & Hickey Historical Architects
- Our Generous Members and Friends
Acorn Hall's Front Doors Receive Royal Treatment, Revived to Original Grandeur!
In the wake of the Hall’s restoration, it became clear that the front doors were also in need. Front and center on Acorn Hall, dutifully on the job for nearly 160 years, and covered in layers of paint, it was clear that a full restoration was necessary. Historically, the Hall’s front doors were faux-grained. A multi-step and multi-layer process, it was evident that another course of faux-graining would’ve totally obscured the detail on the doors.
The Hall’s front doors were removed and painstakingly restored; the trim and glass removed, layers of paint (mostly lead-based) stripped—from panels and trim, door edges, hinges, and hardware all were cleaned by hand. The doors were then reassembled, re-hydrated with natural wood oils, primed, rehung, and prepared for faux-graining.
MCHS Receives Award for Restoration of Acorn Hall
MCHS was extremely honored to receive an award from the Morristown and Morris Township Historic Preservation Commissions for our restoration of Acorn Hall. The award, given as part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “This Place Matters” Campaign, recognizes the significance of historic spaces in the local community and is given during Historic Preservation Month (May).
“We are so excited and honored by the recognition,” said MCHS Executive Director Amy Curry. “We’ve worked so hard over the years, so many grants, so many generous people were a part of this success. It’s really special to see it all come together and be appreciated!”
Gallery Gift Shop Restored!
New Merchandise, Historic Atmosphere, Special Items!
Continuing our ongoing efforts to offer a more historically accurate interior to match Acorn Hall’s newly restored exterior, MCHS tackled the restoration of the Crane family’s art gallery, currently our gift shop. What started with investigations of original colors and treatments, turned into the remaking of the entire space, one that now reflects the original intent of the space and features new items for sale, derived from rare historic items in our archives.
Due to extensive, decades-old water damage of the ship-lap walls in the northeast corner of the room and lack of interior maintenance to the 7’ windows, the project involved a great deal of work repairing original features, more than any other interior restoration project MCHS has undertaken since repair of 3rd floor plaster in 2017. No part of the room was left untouched: original mahogany/ oak flooring was repaired and refinished, 1853 doors (repurposed into windows in 1935), were removed, repaired, and restored, and then the walls and trim were painted to match the original paint found behind the radiator and switch plates.
The space was then re-merchandised, taking fullest advantage of some of the incredible archival materials we hold in our collections. Reproductions were made. Prints were framed. A hanging system was installed (to protect the walls). And items sold while they were still at the framer!
Acorn Hall's Servant Staircase Restored
Apparently, the Crane Family didn’t differentiate when it came to the treatment given to the ’Main’ and ’Servant’ staircases at Acorn Hall; both featured extensive faux-graining!
Acorn Hall’s servant staircase is the only one that accesses all four floors, from the original basement kitchen to attic servant quarters and storage. Marked by distinct features, such as a passageway to 2nd floor bedrooms and call system, its treads were extensively worn—a testament to its use, historically and contemporaneously.
Located just outside of the Butler’s Pantry, it seemed natural to continue our restoration efforts; another key feature of the Hall’s interiors. Over the past six months, original colors were researched, plaster cracks were repaired, the banister and balustrades were cleaned, and the walls, doors, trim, and stair treads/risers (all 45 of them) were painted in their historically accurate 1860 colors.
MCHS is extremely grateful for the continued support of both Benjamin Moore and Ricciardi Brothers, wonderful partners in our continued restoration of Acorn Hall.
Acorn Hall's Butler's Pantry Restoration
MCHS Facilities Manager Gary Rintz started 2018 with a massive restoration project: Acorn Hall’s Butler’s Pantry. An integral part of all tours, the Butler’s Pantry was the only interpreted space that did not maintain a historically accurate 19th century finish; the off-white walls were a stark contrast to the wallpapers and faux-grained trim around them. After painstakingly removing layers of paint to find the earliest and work with Benjamin Moore and Ricciardi Brothers to match those colors, the palette emerged, shades of green, everywhere.
Additionally, the 1935 porcelain sink, installed by Augustus Crane and Alice Castleman Hone, was reglazed and the cabinet base was painted to match its original DuPont Delux finish.
2020 Project: The Carriage House
MCHS Receives Two Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Grants
MCHS extends tremendous appreciation to the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust for its support of both our 2019 grant applications for Acorn Hall’s Carriage House. MCHS’s two grants included Phase I Construction and Phase II construction documents, totaling over $150,000.
“We remain so thankful that the Trust continues to support the work we’ve done and are doing on the Acorn Hall property,” said MCHS Executive Director Amy Curry, “What is especially exciting is that our MCHPT grant award will be combined with a similar 2017 NJ Historic Trust grant award, affording MCHS the opportunity to get this extremely expensive restoration underway with a much smaller capital investment.”
Morris County is lucky to have a grantor like MCHPT, as not all counties in NJ do. This year, $2.9 million was granted to help preserve, restore, or protect 26 historic sites in 18 towns across the county; our carriage house among them!