Location: Stockbridge, Massachusetts
National Historic Landmark
Daniel Chester French
In 1896, sculptor Daniel Chester French purchased 96 acres outside of Stockbridge, Massachusetts with the intent to build his personal residence and studio. Shortly thereafter, French retained architect Henry Bacon to design his main residence and studio and French would spend the rest of his life creating some of America’s most remarkable artwork on this site. French and Bacon solidified their fame by creating the seated Lincoln statue within the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. The Lincoln statue was the work of French and Bacon designed the memorial building. The house, studio, grounds, and outbuildings are now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
In 2014, the National Trust retained MCWB Architects to restore the studio building. This work included replacing the failed stucco coating on the entire structure, reconstructing the chimney, roof repairs and flashing replacement, door and window restoration, skylight reglazing, exterior woodwork restoration, masonry repairs at grade, major structural repairs to the wood frame of the building, and perhaps most importantly, the introduction of a subsurface drainage and slab system beneath the cellar floor to solve the continuing water infiltration into the building at that level. Work on the interior included the introduction of a new HVAC system, replacement of the electrical system, plaster repair and repainting, floor refinishing, and establishing a new anchoring system for the large plaster artwork fastened to the walls.
MCWB retained masonry and plaster specialists Dr. Gerard Lynch and Geoff Orton from the United Kingdom and worked with Highbridge Materials Testing to assist the project team in evaluating the existing stucco and to develop recommendations for replacement mixes, details, and application techniques to precisely replicate the coal aggregate stucco that French applied to the building. After the completion of the studio building, the firm was later retained to perform the same work on a larger scale on the main house.