1820 Riggs General Store Restoration - December 2002

Facing a long cold winter, we were able to complete most of the outside finish and trim work by mid November and that allowed us to move inside and focus all our attention on finishing the interior. The first floor plastering, carpentry and painting is now finished and the second floor work is also nearing completion. The first floor is finished with a textured hand troweled finish on all walls and ceiling in cottage white, offset by dark stained original post & beam structure. A brick red stain covers the concrete floor, which incidentally has radiant heat piping embedded within.

The second floor space is finished in much the same way, with the exception of the actual floor. Wide pine planking up to 22” wide x 22’ long by a full 1 1/4” thick make up the impressive floor. We were able to recycle most of the original floor planking that ranged up to 2” thick. By planing all the planks to a finished thickness of 1 1/4” we were able to reclaim many badly damaged floorboards. All that is left to do on the first floor is to hang a few doors, install the electrical service and move the operation in, which brings us to the strategy of the Riggs General Store Restoration Project.

As most of you know, the old building was rapidly deteriorating and it wouldn’t have been long before it would be unsafe to enter. From an historic perspective, it was the most significant structure of the village. Built in 1820 by Benjamin Riggs and sons, James and Moses, it served all the needs of the villagers and fishermen and was the village center of activities. It also housed the Post Office and Steamship office at later dates.

The major activity at the store was the coastal trading business conducted by Benjamin. Most of this business was with the West Indies where he would Export lumber, fish, grain and wool and import molasses, fruit, spices, fine fabrics, exotic hardwoods, but most especially rum.

The iron bars on the cellar windows and Indian shutters on all doors & windows give a clue as to the value of the General Store inventory.

So, the first goal of trying to restore the building was to preserve some important history of the village. The General Store Restoration Project completes our historic waterfront, which includes the Library, Gallery and Old Rigging Shop Studio. These structures, built by Benjamin Riggs, date back to 1785 and served as the earliest store and warehouses on the site.

To make the restoration project economically viable, we had to identify the boatyard’s needs – space, both for inside yacht service and repair and outside boat storage and summer parking.

Every square foot of inside and outside space is critical to our ongoing operations. As the boatyard is just over 5 acres of land space, we have nearly maxed out our building footprints and outside space use.

The current strategy calls for moving our Spartan Marine Hardware Division to the first floor and cellar of the General Store. As we build some of the finest bronze marine hardware, similar to what might have been seen 100 years ago on fine sailing ships, we will be pleased to craft and display our broad line of marine hardware in the General Store.

The space vacated by Spartan, namely, Bay 6, in our boatyard building complex will be used for Yacht Service and Repair and will allow us to service vessels up to 50’ long in a heated indoor space.

Although the second floor of the Riggs Store would make a great office space, we have that need covered quite well in the boatyard at the present time. What we need is more land space namely, for boat storage and parking. Little did I know that I have been sleeping on the idea for years. The little cottage nestled behind the giant junipers with a great view of Robinhood Cove has got to go! I have been perfectly contented living in the private and peaceful cottage five days a week while attending to the boatyard business.

It now appears quite certain that I will be moving into the 2nd floor of the Riggs Store when the space is finished.

The current plan calls for the cottage to be moved off site to make way for boat storage in winter and customer parking in summer.

From a business standpoint, all of the above seems to make sense. Our banker, Geoff Gattis, Vice President of Bath Savings Institution, has supported our vision. A modest financing package along with my sweat equity and assistance from many of the craftsmen at the boatyard, outside contractors, engineers and consultants has allowed the restoration dream to be realized.

Andrew C. Vavolotis, H.P/C.G

(Historic Preservationist & Chief Groundskeeper)

Boatyard Crew Assist w/ the Restoration Project

Back in June of 2001 came the daunting task of cleaning out the General Store where it had been a repository of excess and obsolete inventory, yard records and “junk”. This task fell to Mike Yard (Spartan), Justin Latici and John Cormier. With the help of giant pallets 8’ x 14’ on the yard forklift and a number of large wooden storage boxes up to 8’ x 8’ x 12’, we carefully stored away all the “valuable stuff” that we needed to keep. The remainder of the “valuable stuff” was split equally between the Georgetown Fire Department auction and the giant yard sale for the benefit of the Georgetown Community Center. The rest of the stuff (“junk”) was dropped in a 40 cu. yd. open top dumpster, never to be seen again.

The “dismantling” as opposed to demolition was the next step and involved the same crew (Mike, Justin & John), with the addition of Bob Edgerton, as the floors were pulled up, planks as thick as 2 1/2” x 22” wide x 22’ long! The post & beam structure came down without incident. No tenons were broken and all the beams were re-used in the restoration. Many of the interesting “finds” during the demolition process (ie. birch bark flashing along the windows, hand cut nails, early pottery, white oak floor pegs, etc.) are on display in our Old Rigging Shop Studio.

Foundation Reinforcement & rebuilding as required:

Concrete form builder & setup – cellar prep – Barbara Bisson (* #8 – Concrete foundation forms- October 3, 2001)

Foundation prep – John Cormier, Jeff Gustafson & Mike Yard means digging in the mud & trenches (nasty work!)
rebar installation
concrete form setup

Concrete pour (floor – cellar) and foundation caps – Jeff Gustafson

  • John Cormier
  • Glenn Baldwin
  • Joe McCarty
  • Mike Yard
  • Barbara Bisson

Steel work first floor:

Cut all steel “I” beams to size and tack welded in place – Muhtsyr Yee (Spartan) (B #20 – “I” beams – October 26, 2001)

Weld first floor structural steel together – Skip Foster

Prime all steel & install corrugated steel deck, rebar on first floor and lay down radiant heat plastic tubing for first floor – Mike Yard (Spartan)

Concrete pour & finish of first floor:

  • Jim Martin
  • Mike Yard
  • Jeff Gustafson
  • Joe McCarty
  • Glenn Baldwin
  • Barbara Bisson

Many have helped in seeing this project come close to completion.

Outside Contractors, Engineers, Designers:

Charlie Collins, Georgetown – Site work, including first floor demolition and assist to the ledge blasting contractor, Maine Blasting, removed all the excess ledge in the cellar without damaging the original stone walls. (O #13 – Cellar hole – August 17, 2001)

Caswell Engineering, Brunswick (Jack Burgess), structural engineers who designed the first floor structure and foundation reinforcement (250lbs/sq. ft. floor loading for the heavy machine tools of Spartan)

Shelter Institute – Pat, Patsey, & Gaius Hennin. ACV took the one week timber framing course to get up to speed on the old timber frame structure. After completing the course, Pat, Patsey and Gaius were invaluable in their practical advice and encouragement on many occasions during the restoration process.

Rocky Hill Design – Al Trescot. Al has been instrumental in the development of all our historical posters and literature at Robinhood. Knowing that he was well versed in Computer Aided Design (CAD), I worked with him to document the post & beam framing that existed and make all the appropriate changes that were planned. The resulting drawings worked beautifully to help us visualize the final product but really helped us to efficiently execute the work.

Building Supplies/Lumber – Downeast Building Supply, Mariner Lumber and Home Depot

Concrete supplier – Williams Construction (now Ferraiolo Concrete Products)

Concrete assist – Jan Martin and his son, Jim Martin

All Roof Copper Flashing – Cape Cod Copper, Steve Knox & Sons, Lakeville, MA

Plumbing & Heating System – Triune Meckanical, Larry & David Meck, Southampton, PA

Welding first floor steel framing – Skip Foster

Post & Beam refinishing and fabricate roof trusses & headers: – ACV & Mike Yard

Post & Beam erection: (H #1 – Post & beam crew left to right: Dennis Tobey, Barbara Bisson, Andrew Vavolotis, Matt Meader & Mike Yard – June 3, 2002) + (P #14 First upright – May 21, 2002) + (Q #1 May 24, 2002)

Mike Yard, Matt Meader w/Jasper McCarty – crane operator

Set posts for main carrier – first floor – Dennis Tobey

Second Floor Sub Floor – Mike yard, Matt Meader & Dennis Tobey

Install 50’ long plates and roof trusses – Mike Yard, Matt Meader, Dennis Tobey, with

Jasper McCarty – crane operator (G #11 – First 50’ long plate – May 28, 2002) & (D #11 – First roof truss – May 29, 2002)

Prefab wall panels – 10 foot wide x 18 foot high – (14 main panels) – Dennis Tobey & Barbara Bisson

Install wall panels – Mike Yard & Matt Meader w/ Jasper McCarty – Crane operator (H #9 – First wall panel – June 3, 2002)

Structural foam insulated roof panels:

Prefab w/2 x 8 splines & sheetrock – Dennis Tobey & Barbara Bisson

Prefab dormers – Dennis Tobey

Install foam insulated roof panels:

  • Dennis Tobey
  • Barbara Bisson
  • Matt Meader
  • Jasper McCarty – crane (I #18 – First roof panel – June 21, 2002)

Insulate walls (R21 – 6” fiberglass insulation) – Mike Yard

Windows & doors install – Barbara Bisson, Jasper McCarty & Mike Yard

Roof: flashing, strap & shingle – Jasper McCarty (L #2 – Roof shingles – July 31, 2002 and L #9 – Roof work – July 31, 2002)

Exterior wall sheathing (1 x 10 & 1 x 8 square edge pine boards) – Barbara Bisson & Jasper McCarty (K #1 – exterior wall sheathing – August 26, 2002 )

Siding shingle – ACV & Jasper McCarty

Electrical prefab – Glenn Baldwin

FRP: Special custom fiberglass bosses for exterior lights – Bob Gray

Paint & stain all windows and doors – Eric Elsmore, Rob Morse, Dave Dick and Karen Hamilton

Recycle wide pine flooring (pull nails and plane to 1 1/4” thick) – Bjorn Hansen, Matt Meader & Mike Yard (M #10 – 2nd Floor work – March 26, 2003)

Materials Purchasing – Warren Harbison & Joel Busler