Carriage House

John Bloomfield Home Restoration

In the Fall of 2003, the Henry County Historical Society took possession of the historic Dr. John Bloomfield Home and Carriage House on West Clinton Street in Napoleon from GraBen LLC. The Society has been restoring the home since 2001, and volunteers from the Society have given hundreds of hours of their time to the restoration of the first floor of the house, cleaning up the property, and painting the exterior. Many businesses and individuals donated time, materials, and money to that project.

To see a larger version of any photo on this page, simply click on the photo.

The Society is now beginning the restoration of the second floor, and we plan to begin the work on the Victorian Gardens when weather permits. From our limited funds, we will be paying for a new front porch with handicapped-accessible ramp, and new fascia, gutters, and down spouts. Much of the work we can do ourselves, but professionals will have to be called in for the more dangerous and complicated jobs. Pictured at left are volunteers Troy Richey and Kelly Wallace.

In the days ahead, we will be outlining here the tasks that are facing us in this restoration work. We will also be documenting the work in photos as we go along, and we hope to get Napoleon and the surrounding community as fired up about the Bloomfield Home restoration as we in the Historical Society are.

Work has 'officially' begun on the porch. We say 'officially' because volunteer carpenters Henry Wiemken and John Badenhop ripped off some bead board on March 2nd to assess the water damage (picture at left). The opinion of both men was that "It's not too bad." When pressed for details, they said that most of the supporting timber is undamaged, but all of the bead board will have to be replaced. We are seeking contributions of lumber for this project. Last year, we got an estimate on what it would cost to repair the porch, and the price give us was $9,000! We believe we can do it a lot cheaper with volunteer labor and donated lumber.

On March 3rd, Todd Wiemken, one of the volunteer electricians, began bringing in the materials for the electrical work. The materials are being purchased out of Historical Society operating funds. If you would like to donate money toward this project, we could use the help. The cost of materials so far is $241.45. Todd's brother, Brian (a.k.a. Dugan), will also be helping with this project. On Saturday, March 6th, Todd and Dugan spent the afternoon installing a circuit box in the attic and running conduit from the main box in the basement up to the attic. I hope to get an 'action' shot of the guys when they return to do more work. The photo at right is kinda dull, but it gives you some idea of what the attic looks like -- you will note that there is zero insulation up there, which will tell you something about our heating bills.

Work on the gutters and downspouts will begin as soon as the weather permits. Because of the height of the gutters, we decided that this one would have to be handled by the professionals. The cost will be close to $3,700 for this project. If you click on the picture to the left, you will see why we need the new gutters, and also why we get water in the basement directly below this area of the roof. The photo at right, taken April 3, 2004, gives you a pretty good idea of why we don't want our members trying to tackle this job themselves!

During the removal of the wallpaper in the second floor bedrooms, we were able to salvage scraps to give us an idea of the reproduction wallpapers that we will eventually use in these rooms. Most of the paper was glued so heavily when it was put on, that salvaging large pieces was next to impossible. However, we go a few good pictures of some of it that you can view here. It's interesting that this wallpaper is not a whole lot different from that which is sold today. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

We made some interesting discoveries while scraping off the wallpaper, and we're going to have to research the best way to handle them. The photo on the left is the name of the paper hanger who did the master bedroom and the west front bedroom. The writing says, "Lee Parker, Painter & Paper Hanger, No[vember] 2, 1904. He did the master bedroom on October 27, 1904. Normally, one would expect pencil-written words and drawings to wash right off, but it seems that the graphite reacted with the plaster and became semi-permanent. Another signature in the west front bedroom is "Jesse Lechler, Napoleon."

The rear bedroom and east front bedroom were done by a different person. Pictured at right is the signature we found. The writing says, "H. R. Glass 1907. Pap 3 room 2 bed & 1 dining May 31, 1907." Sure enough, we found his signature and the date May 20, 1907 in the east front bedroom.

If you've wondered why we are so hot to replace the furnace (no pun intended), the photo of the existing furnace at left will give you some idea of why our gas bills have been so high this winter. In January, we were open for one event (the pre-school program), which took place late on a Thursday morning, and there were a few volunteer work sessions, each lasting no more than a few hours -- and our bill was $345! The furnace isn't the only culprit, however, because we need to get the storm windows put on and insulation installed above the second floor ceiling.