Gage House

Hamilton, Ontario (1796)

The building:
Gage House (aka Battlefield Museum) was the homestead of the widow Mary Jones Gage and her two children, James and Elizabeth, who journeyed to the area from New York State in 1790. During the War of 1812, the Gage family was forced from the residence, which became the headquarters of the invading American troops who occupied the building – hence the name Battlefield House. After the British victory, Mary and her children returned to the house, which was completed to a full two storeys in 1830.

Project Synopsis:
In 1967, as part of the Canadian centennial, Parks Canada conducted a renovation of the Gage House. In 1971, drywall was installed throughout the house in order to protect the delicate heritage paint finishes that date back to the 1820s. Many years later, the City of Hamilton Heritage Facilities and Capital Planning Tourism & Culture Division, headed by Senior Project Manager, Carolyn Samko, decided to uncover these heritage finishes to determine the feasibility of leaving them exposed. HPCS was called upon to develop and execute a plan. HPCS has worked successfully with Carolyn Samko on a number of conservation projects in Hamilton, including Dundurn Castle.

Original plaster wall with drywall removed
Heritage paint visible after careful drywall removal
 Original graining on the stair stringer and other surfaces

Our challenge was to remove the installed drywall without hurting the delicate finishes on the wall behind. Removing drywall from old and deteriorated plaster is a very risky undertaking – i.e. the plaster can easily collapse. HPCS was able to mitigate this risk by first stabilizing the plaster with the application of HPCS plaster consolidants and adhesives. We then very carefully removed the drywall, section by section, until all of the finishes were uncovered. Most importantly, we were able to accomplish this without causing any damage to the heritage paint.

Historic Plaster Conservation Services