By Laura Lennie, News Staff
Battlefield House Museum will reopen to the public on Nov. 27.
The City of Hamilton’s tourism and culture division has completed structural stabilization work in the Gage House. The approximately $200,000 project, which included stabilization of the foundation and structural framing of the house, is in preparation for the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and Battle of Stoney Creek and part of an overall master plan to redevelop the National Historic Site.
The museum has been closed to the public since May.
“The restoration to stabilize the building was critical,” Battlefield House Museum and Park curator Susan Ramsay said. “The Gage homestead is part of Stoney Creek’s past as well as its future. Sara Calder’s vision for purchasing the homestead was to ensure that the community would never forget what happened on her forefathers’ land.”
The structural issues addressed included the injection of lime-based grouting in the stone foundation of the Gage House and installation of support posts in the cellar of the house.
Ramsay said on the main floor in the parlour, a wall was restored to help reduce the stress on the floor joists in the children’s bedroom.
“The original wall separated the parlour from a slip room,” she said. “The slip room more than likely would have been occupied by Ramsay said on the second floor there is evidence of when the house was a storey-and-a-half.
“A portion of the plaster is exposed and marks on the floor indicate where a wall was once located,” she said. “The wall was restored and the floor boards were repaired and reset.”
Ian Kerr-Wilson, manager of museums and heritage presentation for the city, said the work needed to be done because of the age of the Gage House.
“It (the house) also has been modified heavily over the last 200 years and when it starts being used heavily as it is used as a museum, the structural problems really start to become magnified because you start putting a whole lot more people through the building than it’s really intended for,” he said, adding such work is not unique to Battlefield.
“This is something that historical houses all over Ontario have had to face. You can go to museums all over Ontario, historic sites all over Ontario, and see these problems that people have had to address; Battlefield is just one in a long line.”
Kerr-Wilson said restoration work will continue in the Gage House leading up to and after the bicentennial.
Each room in the house will receive attention, including the restoration of plaster and other finishes and restored or new furnishings, he added.
Kerr-Wilson said visitors will have a unique “behind the scenes” opportunity to see how restoration work is done.
“We will be slowly going through and essentially, re-restoring each room. We’ll keep the museum open, we’ll do a room at a time,” he said. “Visitors don’t often get to see, if you will, the magic trick being done, they always see the end project. Visitors are going to be able to see the process as it goes on.”
Kerr-Wilson said there will be “minor” restoration work in the Gage House leading up to the bicentennial.
“We’ll start picking it up in a fairly significant way after the bicentennial; we don’t want to be in the middle of a major project while that’s going on,” he said.
“Some of these projects go quickly and with some of them, you get slowed down because you just have to take some time to figure out what’s possible and what’s the best course of action, so it will be several years before it’s all completed.”