Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tabby House Work Nears Completion Renovation Ending on Cumberland

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tabby House Work Nears Completion Renovation Ending on Cumberland

Article excerpt

CUMBERLAND ISLAND -- Architects overseeing the renovation of

Cumberland Island's oldest structure encountered an unforeseen

obstacle midway through the project.

The wood sills and rafters on the tabby house built by

descendants of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene nearly

200 years ago were rotted and needed to be replaced.

"I suspected there would be wet wood, but I didn't expect the

rot," said Lauren Sickels-Taves, the historical architect

overseeing the project at the national seashore.

The National Park Service took the setback in stride and kept

the project on schedule.

In the spirit of teamwork that federal budget cuts have

fostered among national parks, a carpenter from the Martin

Luther King National Historic Site in Atlanta replaced the

rotted wood.

Renovation of the tabby house, one of the most historically

significant structures on the island, should be complete


In mid-June, the park service started working with Earthwatch,

a non-profit environmental group, to restore the house, which is

on the National Register of Historic Places.

Earthwatch paid for the materials and provided the volunteers

who have done much of the work.

But even with Earthwatch's help, the project might not have

been possible without experts from other national parks,

including Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island

and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument in St.

Augustine, Fla., said Denis Davis, superintendent at Cumberland


"It was mutually beneficial in that they brought the expertise

to work on this project, but they also took back a knowledge of

tabby they didn't have before," Davis said.

Tabby is a mixture of lime, sand, oyster shells and water that

was commonly used in the walls of houses in the Southeast until

about 100 years ago.

Since elements had caused the Cumberland house's walls to

deteriorate, park service officials in the early 1990s applied a

thin layer of cement to stop the deterioration. …

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