ICAA-NC Events at Historic Rosedale Plantation

On March 25, 2017, the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art – North Carolina Chapter and Historic Rosedale Plantation hosted a historic building trades workshop followed by an evening dinner and presentation by Calder Loth at Historic Rosedale in Charlotte, NC.

Daytime sessions included classes and hands-on demonstrations of historic restoration work in plaster and brick masonry, demonstrations of historic blacksmithing, and tours of the home and gardens of Historic Rosedale.

That evening, Calder Loth presented “Rosedale: Built by the Books,” an enlightening exploration of the influence of classical architecture, the “language that has endured the ages,” on the design and decorative motifs at Rosedale.

Rosedale Plantation is one of the finest examples of Federal period architecture in North Carolina. Built in 1815 by Archibald Frew, the home became know as “Frew’s Folly” because he spared no expense in building the plantation that became a jewel of the Carolinas. Originally 918 acres, the plantation was reduced in size over the years to its current 8.5 acres. The home was owned and occupied by several generations of the Frew, Davidson, and Caldwell families until it was sold in 1986. A seven year $1 million restoration began through funding by a private foundation. Restoration and work on the property are continuing, but today it is possible for the public to have a glimpse into the timeless artistry of Rosedale Planation.
The morning session began with a hands-on demonstration of traditional plaster work. Patrick Webb, a heritage and ornamental plasterer, explains how jute is used as a reinforcement material for the plaster moulding he will craft.
The jute is stretched out and covered with liquid plaster of paris. The wooden object on the table is the running mold that contains a metal blade that will shape the plaster into the desired profile.
Continued applications of plaster of paris are applied and carved by the running mold.
The plaster sets up quickly once the dry powder is mixed with water
The final result is a time-honored plaster molding that is enduring and beautiful. One great advantage of plaster mouldings is that they do not experience shrink-swell due to humidity changes that can be detrimental to wood mouldings.
Patrick explains how plaster of paris is produced from calcium sulphate

The next topic, restoring brick masonry, was presented by Wayne Thompson. Wayne is a mason specializing in historic preservation and is based in Hillsborough, NC.
Wayne explains the importance of extending the cure time of lime putty by continually spraying with water. Lime putty properly applied will last for centuries and blends seamlessly with existing lime putty mortar. Lime putty is low in compressive strength, and because of that it is ideal for hand made brick.
Dabbing with the right kind of brush can impart a worn, centuries-old look.
After the plaster and masonry classes, concurrent sessions were held. Guided tours of the gardens were provided by Dr. Larry Mellichamp. Other sessions included tours of the home and the recently completed reproduction of the original blacksmith shop.

Guided tours of the home and gardens were provided by Historic Rosedale
John McPherson and Jason Blanchett forge a candle holder at the recently completed blacksmith shop, or “smithy”
Jason pulls a cord that cycles the bellows on an old fashioned air pump to induce a strong draft that intensifies the fire
Mr. McPherson enjoys telling stories about blacksmithing, the history of Rosedale and Charlotte as well.

Following the daytime classes and tours, approximately 40 guests convened for the dinner and presentation by Calder Loth. Mr. Loth is the Senior Architectural Historian of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. He serves on numerous boards and advisory committees for historic properties and organizations including Poplar Forest, Preservation Virginia, Stratford Hall, Gunston Hall, and the University of Virginia. He is the author of numerous books and articles on Virginia and classical architecture.

Several ICAA-NC board members gather for a photograph with Calder Loth at the evening event. From left to right: Don Duffy, Steven Whitlock, Calder Loth, James Collins, Ken Pursley, and Phil Goodwin. Photo courtesy of Richard Bartlett.

James Collins, President of the ICAA-NC Chapter, kicks off the evening event.
Guests enjoy Mr Loth’s lecture after cocktails and dinner.
Mr Loth explains the how architectural details dating back over 2000 years, including illustrations from Palladio’s Treatise: The Four Books on Architecture, Gibbs’ Book of Architecture, and architectural handbooks by Owen Biddle and William Paine inspired many of the architectural features at Rosedale.

Special thanks to many individuals who made these instructive and enjoyable events possible: the  Staff of Historic Rosedale, the board and members of the NC Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art, and its sponsors.