Historic Rehabilitation

The primary conservation approach to the Cranewood building would be considered as preservation – minimal intervention meant to prevent further deterioration without changing the original fabric of the building. However, larger interventions can sometimes be justified when the commercial viability of the building is dependant on them. In this case, the expansion of the cafe from the Ell to the main building required new access to the rear patio. This location was both the most suitable for access and in need of major repair. Modifying the opening would address these repairs and serve the modified use of the building.

The window as it existed.

Several designs were proposed for the client which prioritized cost, appearance, and function is a variety of ways. The design that was chosen is the most sympathetic and maximizes the width of the entrance. It is historically accurate in that it is constructed as it would have been (with one modification) during the time and style of the original construction. It also erases a later modification to the building (the existing window was not original) that is significant, although of a poorer quality than the original.

The main building was constructed in 1838. It has two walls constructed of rubble sneck bond and two, more visible, walls constructed of ashlar. The new entrance is on a rubble wall, therefore, the design was intended to mimic the windows on the same floor of the corresponding wall. These windows, shown below, have a flat brownstone arch above a greenstone lintel, rybits, and sill. The new design would copy the mouldings and tooling of these stone but, modify the bonding to better distribute load into the length of the wall (which has been the cause of numerous repairs on the original design).


The entrance on the North side of the Ell. Jamb stones are bonded into the length of the wall in this later design.


The tooling detail of the original rybits on the corresponding wall of the main building.
The tooling detail of the rybits in the new entrance
Tooling detail of the original lintel on the corresponding wall of the main building
The tooling detail of the new lintel

The greenstone was supplied from Atlantic Sandstone Company’s Dorchester quarry as sawn billets. From there, I shaped the stone using only hand tools to mimic the texture of the original stone. Every sawn surface is textured before being placed in the wall to ensure a strong bond with the mortar.



Water ingress beneath the sill of the second floor window had caused sever damage to the masonry below. The area was back pointed and the most severely damaged stones were replaced. The bond pattern, stone colour, tooling, and joint size of the wall, although variable, was mimicked as closely as possible. As these stone age and oxidize, the colour will draw closer to the surrounding stones. Unfortunately, the carbon staining that exists on much of this building is a result of the coal-burning age and, likely, won’t collect on replacement stones. I resized surplus stone from the rebuilt fence to create the flat arch above the lintel.



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