|Restored Sawmill Dedicated With Norm Abram at OSV|
David: Meanwhile nearby, in a testament to Murphy's Law, the earthen dam David R. Wight Jr. built nearly two centuries ago awaits the draining of the mill pond a couple of weeks from now to facilitate significant repairs.
When a sinkhole developed beneath the horse-drawn carryall earlier this year, Brad King, senior vice president of museum operations, knew immediately he had a project that would not be going on his deferred maintenance list.
At yesterday afternoon's rededication of the 1820 reproduction of the Nichols-Colby up-and-down sawmill from Bow, N.H., Norm Abram of New Yankee Workshop and This Old House fame announced the creation of the Old Sturbridge Village Preservation Society.
In a pamphlet handed out to the hundreds of visitors and members on hand, Mr. Abram said, "I know old houses. And I know we love the old houses at Old Sturbridge Village," noting the cost of maintaining 68 buildings representing the active exhibits in the region's largest outdoor history museum.
Tom Kelleher, curator of mechanical arts, said the 11,000-plus new shingles on the roof and the replacement of a weakened roof beam will ensure the sawmill has at least another two decades of useful life.
He said he especially appreciated the manner in which the shingles were placed in historical fashion.
"Where two roofs come together today, the shingles are butted together atop metal flashing. The shingles on the sawmill are woven together in a fashion that would have been done in the early 19th century," Mr. Kelleher explained.
Noting that New Englanders of the period were nothing if not practical, he said sawmills were built to protect the saw mechanism from the elements and provide some cover for sawyers during inclement weather.
"They were designed and built to last about 20 years or so," the curator said.
Mr. King acknowledged that the sawmill is his personal favorite among all the buildings and exhibits for which he's responsible, citing the visceral experience of the clanging of the gears, the rush of water through the flume, the scent of the freshly-cut pine logs.
"It's an iconic building and one which after nearly 30 years needed a new roof," he said.
As for the earthen dam repair, he said when Wight built the dam in 1795 using gravel from a nearby glacial drumlin, it was sandy, and over time there was some erosion.
"It was that erosion that created the sinkhole," he said.
Mr. King said the dam was inspected using ground-penetrating radar.
He said the repair work includes grouting what had been dry-laid sluiceways channeling water to the mill. Additionally, he said a concrete curtain wall will be added to the dam.
"That will be an impervious core to the dam, essentially preventing any further erosion," Mr. King explained.
He said the pond will be drawn down from Oct. 21 until just before Thanksgiving.
A temporary catwalk now allows visitors safe passage from the carding mill to the sawmill.
Mr. King said the local conservation commission, the state Office of Dam Safety and the New England Division, Army Corps of Engineers are all involved in the permitting process which is being done on an emergency basis.
He said the cost of the dam repair represents an unplanned expense to his budget, and the total cost of the dam repair has yet to be determined.
Master Carpenter Norm Abram, left, of the popular PBS-TV show, "This Old House,"chats with Bob Hamburger and his son, Michael, 8, of Andover, Conn., in front of Old Sturbridge Village's 1820's-era, water-powered sawmill during a rededication ceremony event at OSV on Saturday. (T&G Staff/STEVE LANAVA)