Restoration of Hollis town hall windows renews building’s beauty
Travelers visiting Hollis and local residents, too, might have to do a double take when passing the newly refurbished stained-glass windows that now enhance Town Hall at 7 Monument Square.
The green, amber, aqua and rose-colored panes, illuminated from within, are a beautiful sight to behold.
Hollis Town Administrator Troy Brown said he has had people come into his office in Town Hall especially to comment on the updated appearance of the hall, which in the summer underwent a renovation that included renewing the windows, exterior restorations and new roofing shingles. Approved funds of $340,000 for the total renovation were allotted but the project came in under budget, Brown added.
“I think the Town Hall represents Hollis with pride and dignity,” Brown said. “When people see it now, as close to original as possible, they are amazed. I’ve had people, taxpayers, come in and say, ‘congratulations,’ on such a successful project, one that came in under budget.”
Donna Setaro, the town’s building land use coordinator, concurred.
“The building is gorgeous,” Setaro said. “It’s really nice that they did the whole thing over. The windows are outstanding.”
Alpine Environmental, of Chelmsford, Mass., was hired by D.L. King Associates who won the bid to rehabilitate the exterior of Town Hall, including the restoration of 30 antique windows. The company was founded in 1991. It is owned by Ron Peik, of Hollis, and his dad, Ed, also of Hollis. A mechanical engineer, Ron worked for the Air Force before he and his dad went into business. Ed is a veteran of more than 40 years in civil and environmental engineering.
Ron Peik, a member of the Heritage Commission in Hollis and president of the Lead and Environmental Hazards Association, a nationwide industry organization, is certified in microbial remediation and is an expert in indoor air quality.
The Peiks and their crew undertook the renovation of the fragile, double-hung windows and fixed-light windows, six- to eight-feet tall, that were original to the building. The building dates to 1886.
Ron Peik’s tenure in historic renovation is some 22 years. The company also specializes in residential and commercial lead paint abatement, mold remediation and projects entailing the stripping and renewal of detailed woodwork, along with other feats of beautification.
Ron Peik said every one of the 30 windows in the 126-year-old hall needed repairs. Detective work was required to match windows that had been moved over the years to other parts of the building.
“There were panes of glass in colors – amber, rose, green – and an overall pattern in the placement of the windows within the building,” he said. “That pattern had been lost over the years. There were 10 sets of windows that had been scrambled – put into the wrong openings and had glass replaced.”
Ron Peik said the windows were quite debilitated but deemed them from the start quite salvageable.
“We’ve restored windows that were far worse,” he said. “It was my operations manager, Jason Roy, of Nashua, who took it upon himself to figure out the pattern of the scrambled windows. Now, we’re very, very certain we have the original pattern back.”
The challenge was stimulating but the men were intent on preserving the landmark building, one designed by a renowned architect, William Butterfield, of Manchester.
Butterfield, a prolific architect most active from 1890 to 1910, built churches, halls, lavish residences and massive office buildings. He is known regionally for designing the Monodnock-Upton Building in Manchester. The structure, long gone, was constructed on Elm Street in 1892 and boasted hundreds of office spaces.
‘Quite a challenge’
“The Hollis Town Hall windows were quite a challenge,” Ron Peik said. “The style of the whole building is Victorian – shingle-style Victorian. The windows would be typical of this style.”
Ron Peik and his dad named Keith Adams, of Lowell, Mass., as supervisor for the job, a post based on his extensive experience with historical restoration. The job was all done from the interior, Ron said. There was no need for cranes or ladders tilted upon outside walls.
“We took the trim from around the edges and removed the sashes,” he said. “Those were wrapped up and taken off-site to where they were chemically hand-stripped. They were stripped down to bare wood.”
Then, a special epoxy was used to repair rotted wood and loose joints. The substance is designed to expand and contract with the wood, instead of popping out from the repeated stresses after a few years. The old glazing putty was removed and the glass was re-puttied. The sashes were then painted and reinstalled on the original pulleys with new copper chains.
Alpine Environmental has some bigtime credits to its name. Producers for “This Old House,” a PBS television show, who are in need of mold remediation services, lead paint removal, historic paint restoration or demolition compatible with stringent Environmental Protection Agency requirements, oftentimes call upon Ron Peik and his dad.
“We’ve been featured, so far, on two episodes of ‘This Old House,’ and two episodes of “Ask This Old House,” Ron said.
The Peiks’ list of historic renovations is a long one. Ron Peik said they have restored the Massachusetts homes of prominent Minutemen, heroes of the Revolutionary War. Three of Ron’s favorite historic renovations are the dwellings of Colonel John Buttrick (1731-1791) and Colonel James Barrett (1710-1779) in Concord, and Capt. Isaac Davis (1745-1775) in Acton. Davis was the first officer killed in the Revolutionary War and is depicted in the iconic Minuteman statue in Concord.
“Colonel Barrett was in charge of the Concord militia in 1775,” Ron Peik said. “We stripped all the paint in his house but saved the original coat, which was made of colonial-style, milk-based paint. The house is on Barrett Mill Road in Minuteman National Park in Concord, Mass.”
The restoration of the Hollis Town Hall windows was a part of a project voted upon at a town meeting last March. The job entailed an exterior restoration and replacement of the cedar shingles.
Those tasks were handled by D.L. King Associates, general contractors from Nashua. The Alpine Environmental company was selected by them to do the restoration of the windows. Ron Peik said his crew capped the project by upgrading the energy efficiency of the windows by adding reproduction brass weatherstripping.
“They wound up being brand new looking, 130-year-old windows,” Ron Peik said. “That’s cool stuff. That’s what keeps us loving what we do.”
For more information on the restoration of the stained- glass windows in Hollis Town Hall, call 465-2209. Details on Alpine Environmental can be found online at www.alpineenvironmentalinc.com.