A recent 1,900 square feet addition to the workshop enabled the assembly of a very large maple ceiling roundel for a new fireplace alcove at the University of Vermont. The roundel is above a fireplace, and the chimney goes up through the middle. What started out as an interesting drawing:
Became a large framework.
The framework was stained black and then maple panels, finished with a clear lacquer finish, were inserted, with spacers between.
Installation at UVM.
The finished roundel.
The recent extensive renovation of this downtown Middlebury restaurant, now named The Lobby and owned by chef/owner Michel Mahr, was accomplished by working with designer Rebecca Duffy. The unusual building is located on the banks of Otter Creek, just upstream from the falls. It was originally designed by architect John Anderson to resemble a cruise ship on the river.
The primary wood used for the cabinetry was white oak, stained dark. One of the most dramatic features of the renovation is the new front and back bar. The front bar is twenty-five feet long overall, built completely of white oak, with a two-foot wide top surface covered in zinc. The back bar consists of built-in open shelves for displaying liquor bottles and glasses.
The Lobby’s front and back bar.
Bottles in the half mirrored doors on the tall upper shelves are lit by LED lights and are reached by a purpose-built library ladder on a curved track (top photo, far right side).
White oak bench and table tops.
White oak booths and table tops.
A cozy nook.
An antique wash stand retrofitted into a server station with zinc counter and faucet.
Stark Mountain Woodworking is committed to sustainability. In support of this ideal, Skimmer and his wife Jill have installed a 54KW solar array on their organic vegetable farm, located nine miles from the workshop. The six solar panels are mounted on trackers that automatically follow the sun to maximize solar gain.
A third of the total cost of the installation was subsidized by Federal and State grants. The electricity generated is sold to Green Mountain Power, a local utility. On an annual basis, these solar panels pay for 85% of the electricity used at the workshop. This is a savings of approximately $1000 each month. The installation will have paid for itself in six to seven years and the panels are expected to last for twenty-five years.
The Solar Panels at New Leaf Organics, Bristol, VT
The Stark Mountain workshop occupies a breeze-block building 168 feet long by 36 feet wide, on the edge of the village in New Haven, Vermont. Originally, the first two floors were used to house chickens. Over the years the building was also used as a grain co-op, a machine shop, a furniture storage facility and a commercial pottery. Stark moved into the building in July 1997. At first, half of the space was shared with the pottery, but within two years Stark had taken over the entire building. A 2100 square feet addition was built in 2004 for the handling of solid woods and another 1900 square feet was added in 2013 for sheet goods.
In 2007, a garden was designed and planted to soften the long street-facing side of the building. The design included a small visitor car park with a path leading to a new front entrance. A new company sign was also installed.
Several years later, hops were planted and trained up the height of the building, with a view to Stark Mountain producing its own beer (Stark Raving IPA, Dovetail Ale, Stark Stout?). The hops have grown well, but unfortunately the variety proved to be purely ornamental and not suitable for beer brewing. The foliage does shade the west-facing windows and add to the lushness of the landscaping.
Workshop with new garden in June 2007
Front Entrance Door June 2009
Garden in June 2012, showing the hops reaching the roof
In the 18th century, Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain was a French stronghold guarding the narrow water highway connecting New France with Britain’s American colonies. At the end of the French and Indian War, the fort was in the hands of the British. On May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold and the Green Mountain boys captured the fort from the British in an early morning raid. It was considered the first American victory of the Revolution.
Today this historic site is maintained by the Fort Ticonderoga Association, which was established in 1909 by the Pell family, who owned the property. As part of an ongoing restoration program, the Stark Mountain workshop rebuilt and replaced the round and square-topped solid white oak casement windows and heavy plank doors on the King’s Warehouse. The original building, which was used for storing gun powder, was destroyed by the French in 1759. It was reconstructed in 2008 and rededicated as the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. The workshop is now making replacement windows for the Soldiers’ Barracks.
The restoration of the Mars Center was based on extensive historical research by the architect, Andrew Wright of Tonetti Associates of New York, and consulting historians. The contractor was Bread Loaf Corporation, under Project Manager Paul Wyncoop. For historical accuracy, it was important to ensure the correct placement of the recreated door and window hardware. Old glass, found on the property, was incorporated whenever possible. Surfaces were painted with historically accurate colors and linseed oil-based paints from Europe.
The rough white oak destined to become the windows.
Louis Dupont (l) discusses the windows with David Rose who milled and assembled the windows and doors.
- The glass for the windows is held in by the traditional method of puttying, using a special linseed oil and chalk putty from Sweden.
- The hardware for the windows and doors was specially forged and had to be installed in the traditional locations on the units.
A completed window.
- The main round topped door in the King’s Warehouse.
A square topped door.
Exterior (l) and interior construction of the door.
- Restored King’s Warehouse, now the Mars Education Center, showing new windows and doors.
View from the battlements over Lake Champlain.