Carr’s Hill is the last of the historic White-designed historic properties on Grounds to receive a substantial renovation. Those leading the work say it is not only well-deserved, due to the historic value of the home and its surroundings, but also long overdue.
“It’s more than just a house,” said Brian Hogg, senior preservation planner with the University’s Office of the Architect. “The construction of Carr’s Hill represented a major moment in the University’s history, with the installation of the first president and an enormous change in the administration of the University.”
From its founding until Alderman’s arrival in 1904, the University had been managed administratively by the chairman of the faculty, in consultation with the rector of the Board of Visitors. The significant growth of the University at the end of the 19th century made this somewhat informal, part-time administrative structure, which was part of Jefferson’s legacy, impractical for an ambitious, modern university.
Alderman, an experienced university president, was brought in to create a new administrative structure for the University.
“Carr’s Hill House has not had a major renovation since it was built,” said Jody Lahendro, supervisory historic preservation architect for Facilities Management, which, along with the Office of the Architect, is overseeing the project. “It has outdated mechanical/electrical systems and structural deficiencies that need to be addressed.”
One of those deficiencies is the roof support. In the original design, the weight of the roof was supposed to be borne by the outside walls of the structure, but due to some alterations during construction, the roof weight was also placed on interior walls that were not structurally designed to support the additional weight. This has resulted in uneven floors, some of which sag by up to three inches, and shifting of the building itself.
To remedy this, crews are installing two steel trusses in the top floor of the building that will carry the roof weight and place it firmly on the outside walls. The nine-foot-tall trusses, which span the 57-foot width of the house, are being constructed around the existing wood framing of the original construction. Each truss has nearly 100 steel sections and fittings, all of which must be assembled in place with bolted connections. A smaller truss has been built in the north wing of the house, a combination of engineered wood and steel plates that are laminated together to bear the weight.