Local man serves on international conference panel
By Frederick A. Smock, Telegram & GazetteTom Green remembers the first time someone asked him to repair some rotted sills. “At that point, quite honestly, I had to go look up what sills were,” he said with a smile. With virtually no experience in construction or carpentry, Green decided that slow and easy was the best course to follow. “I did a little section, then I did a little more,” he said.“I kept studying and I took a few courses.” Today Green, who runs a small company called Colonial Restorations on East Main St, works year round repairing post and beam structures and restoring older homes.
A onetime railroad foreman who developed a love for very old houses while helping a friend restore one, Green recently served on a panel of experts at Restoration ’95.
The three-day event, an international exhibition and conference for professionals and owners of historic homes and collections, was held last month at the Hynes Auditorium in Boston.
Green served on a four-member panel that discussed the steps to follow in evaluating a potential restoration project on a historic house.
Having previously addressed small groups, such as historical societies and rotary clubs, Green said serving on the panel was both exciting and a challenge.
“I think everything worked out well,” he said.Held in Europe until 1994, the event, booked as the “largest preservation event in North America,” drew hundreds of owners and potential owners of old homes and featured about 200 exhibitors in addition to the various panel discussions, Green said.
According to Green, there is an increasing interest in owning old homes, something that was reflected in the turnout at the conference.
“Owners of old homes are a special breed of people,” he said.“Many of my customers will say I can yell at their kids and kick their dog, but I can’t hurt their house.”
“A lot of them are fixing up their homes to pass on to their grandchildren.They look at a house in a different way than most people would,” he said.
Green said he most enjoys working on houses built before 1800.“If it was built from 1850 on, I consider it a new house,” he said.
Old homes have an atmosphere and a feeling of warmth that is unique, Green said.“They were built to go with the land and to fit the setting.They are usually straightforward and simple without a lot of ornamentation.”
Restoration of old homes is a slow, methodical process, said Green, who uses hand tools as much as possible in his restorations.
“I will often spend several days just looking over the house to figure out how it was put together,” he said.
How it was originally put together and what needs to be done to restore it to its original state, is all important, especially in post and beam construction, he said.
Tollerances are all important, Green explained.If a beam is off by as little as an eighth of an inch, it will not go together.
“Working on old houses is not about purely making money,” Green said.“Making money is nice, but you also have to enjoy it.Even though I get real dirty sometimes and it’s real heavy work at times, it’s enjoyable.”
While many old homes share similar construction features, each project is a new challenge because the specifics are different, Green said.
“The way I replace a sill in one house may be totally different than the technique I use in another house,” he said. “Every job is little different.”