Campbell Thomas & Co.

Community & Transportation Planning

Morton House

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Partial restoration and attention to persistent failures

The Historic Morton Morton House was built in 1750 by a first cousin to a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Located along the confluence of the Darby and Muckinpates Creeks the house is prone to flooding. Morton Morton House provides a key historic symbol for Norwood Borough. Unoccupied and only seasonally open to the public, Norwood had boarded up the house to protect it from vandalism. They contacted Campbell Thomas & Co. (CT&C) to provide a design which allowed for the seasonal use and addressed the deteriorating conditions within the structure. CT&C recognized several problems ranging from termite damage to improper ventilation of the historic structure and set up a plan for restoring and maintaining this historic structure. The architects designed non-permanent shutters that allow light and air through that can be easily removed for events but also can resist vandalism. Basement windows required different means to also permit light and ventilation, but with the ability to protect the glass, still be operable and keep rodents out. Older structures were designed to accommodate rather than isolate the exterior environment. Recognizing this, CT&C established a system to respond to humidity and air movement through the house along with remote monitoring sensors, computerized controls and circulation fans so that mold and moisture situations could be eliminated. The system anticipates changes by monitoring outside conditions as well. The basement walls were built in the 1700’s with the intent of being dry and having characteristics common to semi-porous lime and mud packed stone, unlike modern basements. The building was intended to breathe and move water in its walls this way. CT&C eliminated some of the modern conditioning systems so that walls could permit wicking of moisture through the stone walls at acceptable levels. Severe termite structural damage was also encountered. Flooring and adze-hewn structural beams were replaced and more modern but damp insulation was removed. CT&C had the proper approach that years of experience brings and corrected some of the more commonly misconceived solutions incompatible with maintaining a historic building.

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