Update on Restoration of the David Damon Tavern

October 2008

Volunteers from the North Reading Historical Society, the North Reading Historical Commission, the North Reading Town Band and many others accomplished much needed work! Work continued in the entry hallway and staircase next to the Historical Society's Welcome Center on the first floor. Volunteers also worked in the basement and on the second floor. Dilapidated wallpaper was carefully steamed and removed. Worn out carpet, carpet padding and tack strips were removed, peeling paint was scraped from windows and rooms were swept. General trash, an old couch and a large dead squirrel also found their way to the curb.

September 2008

Volunteers from the North Reading Historical Society and the North Reading Historical Commission joined forces and began working in the entry hallway and staircase next to the Historical Society's Welcome Center on the first floor. This entryway leads to the second floor museum. Dilapidated wallpaper was carefully steamed and removed. Worn out carpet, carpet padding and tack strips were removed from the staircase, revealing lovely oak treads. Furniture was moved from the northwest upstairs room to make way for another phase of work.

June 2008

The North Reading Historical Commission is currently working on restoring the second floor of the tavern. The second floor is the museum space allocated for this historic building.

The Commission is preparing to reopen the Rufus Porter Ballroom to the public. Fire suppression issues have prevented visitors from viewing the 1830's Rufus Porter murals in the ballroom and the Commission is striving to resolve this.

In preparation for the opening of the museum, the dilapidated carpet in the upstairs ballroom has been carefully removed and plans are being made to refinish the floor. Protective window treatments are being researched to replace to decaying curtains. Volunteers are being organized for cleanup, painting, plastering, flooring installation and other restoration needs. Watch the North Reading Transcript for volunteer opportunities.

January 1998

As it is in most houses, the largest and most expensive part of the Damon Tavern restoration project is the part that doesn’t show!

Extensive structural repairs have been made to the frame of the building. Timbers have been reinforced with special laminated beams, attached to the original framework with steel plates and massive bolts. Of course, walls and ceilings will hide the building’s corrective “orthopedic surgery.”

The mechanical systems are nearly complete. Heating has been updated, air-conditioning has been added. New electrical wiring and plenty of telephone wiring have been installed in order to make the new rental space suitable for the “Information Highway.”

With the exception of the ballroom, a sprinkler system has been added throughout the entire building. Fund raising efforts have begun to raise money for a fire suppression system that will smother any fire in the ballroom without using water or exposing people to harmful chemical vapors. Release of water for a small fire such as a waste basket fire or food burning on the stove in the upstairs kitchenette would severely damage  the murals . The proposed system will cost about $30,000.00. Heat and smoke detectors, and fire alarms with direct connections to the fire department have been added and/or updated.

The exterior has been repainted in its early 1840’s colors (about the time the ballroom murals were painted.) New brick walks have been built. The original doors have been stripped and repainted in a deep green, also from the 1840’s. (The door which was formerly the front door, still has a temporary plywood door. Until the contractor has completed his work, the plywood door with its hasp and padlock will probably remain to keep the project secure.) The new front door will be on the parking lot side of the building. There is a handicapped accessible ramp leading to the parking lot.

The shaft for a handicapped lift has been installed.(No small feat in a mortise & tenon timber frame house.) In about three weeks the lift machinery should arrive. For those familiar with the building, the lift will be in an area that was a closet to the right of the inside fireplace in the ballroom. It will stop on the lower level of the upstairs (the level where the upstairs bathrooms and the periodical shelves used to be.) It will also stop on the ballroom level and people will be able to enter either the ballroom or the front corner upstairs room. This is not a conventional elevator. It will only be large enough for one wheelchair and one attendant, for those who cannot propel their own chairs.

Although the plastering is close to being done, there is still much interior finish work to do. Stay tuned!

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History of the Tavern

 Earlier restoration projects at the Damon Tavern
Updated: November 2012 & VLM 2001