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LOG CONSERVATION CUSTODIANSHIP

Preserving historic buildings is crucial to retaining our nation’s heritage and history. As one of the earliest log structures built in Middle Tennessee, the materials and techniques used are over 200 years old and the logs, even today, are constantly adapting to changes in humidity, sun or shade, and geographic/environmental differences; and all these changes affect the logs in ways that might not be expected or predicted.

Much of the material used to repair the daubing in the past has a high percentage of Portland cement in the mix. Portland cement is caustic and has a deleterious effect on the wood. It becomes very hard when dry and tends to crack along the top and bottom edges of the logs, as well as vertically. Traces of the original daubing that remain indicate that the early daubing mixtures were lime-based and much softer. (1)

Proper maintenance and repairs, to keep logs in a stable condition, requires real historical experts who understand how and why early constructions methods worked, and why modern approaches more often create irreversible log damage when applied.

 

The recommended (historically sound) checklist for Buchanan log care is (in sequence):

o Inspect logs for soundness and repair or replace if necessary. Any stray nails, tacks, staples, or other foreign objects affixed to the logs should be removed.    

o All surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned of dirt, mold, and mildew, as well as any construction debris. A pressure washer can be used, but care  should be taken not to damage the historic materials. Do not use high pressure; rely instead on lower pressure and a suitable substance to break  down the grime and mold. Murphy’s Oil Soap works well without permanently damaging the wood.  

 o All rotten wood should be carefully removed, avoiding damage to the sound wood. Care should be taken to preserve as much of the remaining historic fabric as possible.    

o All seasoning cracks should be filled with a suitable material. Any other damage to the wood should be addressed.    

o Seal all cracks around windows, doors, and butt joints with a suitable material.  

o Clean sealant residue from all surfaces.  

 o Stain log surfaces where necessary to unify the appearance of the logs and eliminate any mottled-looking areas.  

o Apply a suitable protective coating to the logs.  

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(1)MTSU TCWNHA Assessment 2011

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