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  • Writer's pictureConservancy Works Research Shop

Cleaning up the Strikes- Restoring Lyndhurst’s Bowling Alley

Many have asked me, as a preservationist what do I prefer, archival research work or field work. For me I’d say both worlds have their charm. Both include reasonable ‘detective’ work and end with a sense of accomplishment. Working at Lyndhurst, I have been able to carry this out with some balance from the summer of 2014. The most recent of the projects is the earliest single lane bowling alley in the northeast. Built by Helen Gould in 1894, the shingle-style building, is undergoing restoration for a hopeful opening in 2016.


2015-09-05 18.15.57

The building was left in a time-capsule after major restorations ended in the mid-90. Work commenced beginning the winter of 2014 and is nearing completion of its first phase ‘activities where the north parlor will have been restored to serve as a starting point for further restorations. It began with documentation of the fireplace and mahogany mantelpiece late last year, then the reorganizing of the storage on the second-story of this pavilion where most of the original wood work was discovered that could be possibly be salvaged and used in the restoration work. While this constitutes both archival and field research it was also educating to learn storage techniques that would be quick to assemble and easier to uninstall while being compact and beneficial.

After the frosty winter projects’ and weeks of planning, the restoration project manager and I put our brawn’s and brains to work in the field. After testing numerous finishes and stains we began with the walls and ceiling and then moved onto the floor. Then came what was the most fun for me, restoring the 1895 fireplace built with Sayreville and Fisher face bricks and a tinted mortar. Finding the makers marks on the original bricks was the added advantage in sourcing a couple of bricks to carry out the work. The next step was to dive right into files (left from work previously carried out at the building) to get the right mortar mix that would match the existing reddish mortar on the fireplace. Once that was set, the broken projection was restored in a day.


before after fireplace

Although this just marks the beginning of what in the building needs to be preserved, it has been a learning curve trying to retain as much as of its original character while priming it for future use. So while we clean up the strikes, I would work towards finding the balance, and like Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”

Edit 1: A lot has been done after this re-post from my other blog Vanished Pasts, look forward to more amazing photos.

Here they are! Also the mantle piece was made by specialized contractors from the drawing provided.

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