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Restoration of the Old Naval Hospital

Update - March 30, 2006

About Halfway Done – And A New Paint Color!

The restoration of the Old Naval Hospital is about half done for this beginning stage. All work is projected to be completed by the end of May. Another major note is that one window on the east side of the portico, has been painted with the new color (see below) which is a rich reddish brown.


All of the newly restored windows for the first floor on the east side of the main door of the south facade has now been installed. The newly restored sashes were delivered the first week of February. They are not complete so the protection for the windows has not been removed as yet because the window latches have not been installed.

These double-hung windows feature the restored sashes, new weather stripping, interior storm panels and the existing windows lites as they were taken out. Replacement windows, where required, are done to the period. The interior storm windows are being added for insulating purposes, to the bottom window sashes. These plexiglass additions are practically not noticeable to the casual observer, even at a close distance. Additional counter weights are installed in all the windows to accommodate the extra load. Brass chains are installed replacing the counterweights’ original sash cords and all windows will actually operate.

The contractor has removed the paint material on the stone sills and hood of one of the windows to demonstrate what they looked like originally (without paint). A cost estimate was submitted a by the contractor to do that work on all the windows. This was accepted and all the windows will be done.

For the basement casement windows, which have been refabricated according to what the originals looked like, have arrived and were installed within the knuckle hinges. The frames for their installation have been prepared as well as the exterior shutters for the casement windows, but have not yet been delivered. They are expected momentarily. The hardware package for these casement windows has been submitted to the architect and approved.

The metal at the bottom of the basement windows will be painted to match the windows. The color analysis is completed and was submitted to BELLArchitects with color draw-downs, and the Munsell Color Number for exterior windows and frames. It is a reddish brown color and has been applied to one window so far. Note in this photo this fully researched new color, since it will be the color used for all the windows and doors.


For both of the doors (main portico and basement on the south facade) the transom and sidelites have been installed. They are both awaiting hardware for final installation. For the final finishing, the paint analysis made it evident that there was both a sand finish on the lower level of the brick basement and there was graining associated with both the interior and exterior doors.

The sidelites to the doors on both the basement and first floors have been installed with their restored hardware. They were completely restored on the original base.


Work was begun on the portico during March, with the subcontractor, Restoration Concepts, which is located in the District of Columbia, dismantling the portico and setting up shop on the second floor.

Restored joists are being primed and completed. Many had previous repairs that needed to be brought up to standard as well as work on parts that had deteriorated. Those joists are being placed and reinstalled for the floor of the portico. New girts will also be installed since the originals were too badly destroyed to restore. One notes the fine work done by the subcontractor on these pieces.

The columns are also being restored and reconditioned using Spanish Cypress where needed. Older repairs are being replaced or restored as needed also.

The balustrades were completely disassembled and are being repaired and primed. These were found to be made of native red oak and are, all-in-all, in very good condition. One or two that were missing or destroyed, will have to be refabricated from Spanish Cypress.


The cast iron stair, railings, posts and lighting fixtures columns have been removed by the contractor to their workshops for restoration and repair. The subcontractor for this work is Craftsman Iron, located on Brentwood Road in the District of Columbia.

Much of the stair will only need repair and restoration. However, there are some components which have been broken or have elements missing, and these will have to be refabricated for installation.

The time period the architects are focusing on is about 1900, which relates to the earliest photo available of the building where the light fixtures and the metal stair exist. The architects have determined the both of these elements are not original to the building, but are significant features. They have also found fabricators who can build the kind of light fixtures that were from that period. These fixtures will also be installed at the time of the stair installation A report is being issued with these findings and the paint analysis findings.

The stair and associated work will take about three months to complete, suggesting that the entire first stage should be done by the end of May.

The last work to be done on the current contract will be the brick pointing which will include pointing of all brick below the ground level (i.e. below the water level), and applying the sand paint which was discovered to be on the original building. This sanding technique is a common method used which has a paint with sand in it, applied in such a was as to make it appear that the foundation is a solid stone structure.

Although the original schedule was to complete work by the beginning of March, the new findings and additional work uncovered have lead to some delays. In addition, it was more difficult to find qualified contractors to work on the portico and stairs than anticipated.

It is much more important to do the work right than to rush the work through, and it is heartening to see that the DC Office of Property Management and BELLArchitects are taking the view that they will get the job done right instead of just on time.

This site is sponsored by the Friends of the Old Naval Hospital

Last updated November 15, 2008