Preservation Maryland was founded in 1931 to preserve historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes and archaeological sites. In 2009 they included the yawl boat of the Dee of St. Mary's within their protective outreach. This year they joined again with the Chesapeake Bay Field Lab and added their support to a Maryland Heritage Areas Authority Capital Grant to further the renovation of the skipjack herself.
In addition to helping save the Dee just before she was gone -- and thousands of other historic resources in Maryland -- Preservation Maryland throws a great conference every year -- this past month convening in Easton at the very historic and thus very cool Tidewater Inn.
There were days of important sessions, some great eats and speakers, even another skipjack available for a spin about. I went to see how old bricks are made and laid today -- ala Jonas Miller & daughter Miriam Miller Maynard.
The program was put together by Preservation Maryland's Elizabeth Beckley, whose knowledge of how to build 'old' in the 21st century had preservationists clamoring for her to take a how-to-get-it-done show on the road.
Among the things I learned was that it takes five cords of wood in a kiln to heat 1,000 bricks. Lime is needed for mortar. It has something to do with making the mortar hot and thus allowing it to set up quick. Around the Chesapeake that means oyster shells.
The comfort of the mason is the condition of the wall. If the mason is hot and sweaty working on the wall, the wall is hot and sweaty. If the mason is cold. The wall is cold.
The time to begin working on a masonry wall, says builder Pamela Allen Lindsley, is the time of year to plant tomatoes.
"Timing is everything with mortar," Jonas said.
Thanks again to Elizabeth Beckley who left some on the excursion with this final thought. In Colonial times "everything was intentional. There was no waste. Siting was for the breeze. How to ventilate a house was a part of a Virginian ladies' housekeeping book."