Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Adoption is not for everybody...

Adopt a highway, adopt a manatee, adopt a soldier, adopt a pet, adopt a....bit of neglected c.1819 frame house, Bath's most significant building?
Nah, wouldn't be practical.
Too much work.

That's why I've had this house on my worry list whenever I've passed through Bath these last 15 years.
I blogged about the house back in November 2010.
To quote our old dad, at the time "I wouldn't have given much for its chances".
Looked like a classic case of benign neglect.
And we all know how that ends.

Last Friday as I bopped down Church Street from Bath Academy, head full of anticipation for the War of 1812 events ahead, eyes on the reenactors' encampment on the Fairfield-Gutzeit lawn, I was overjoyed to see signs of life at the corner.

Had a peek inside - and a tour the following day.
This is one lucky house...adopted by a smart, energetic, skilled, ambitious, informed, visionary man who is bringing it back from the brink.
His name is Ron Tasker, he's an engineer, he knows what he is doing and he had been searching throughout the area for a house like this.

He has sat down at the knee of this old soldier, and heard all the tales.
He is sharing the stories, and writing a few of his own along the way.

I am almost speechless with relief...with recognition of a kindred spirit.

Someone whose conversation is peppered with words like hand-made lathe, guttae, Rempel, rose headed nails, pilasters, the Kingston Gazette, Georgian mantels with subtle neo-classical touches, early wallpaper. Who knows his way around the early history of this building, its business, its owner, and this town, and is graciously sharing what he is learning and doing (like removing 30 or more tons of rubbish from the building) to effect this house rescue. He was looking for a place like this house. Lucky house.

Ron Tasker telling the Peter Ham store story

a touch of neo-classical under the mantel shelf
This was the original 'front' facing the street up from the harbour

hand-split lathe - to enjoy fully read John Rempel

Watch this space.
The news from Ham House is getting better every day.


  1. Thats fantastic news. I always had a soft spot for that house. I have to be honest and say that I feared for its fate....what a blessing to see whats happening to it now.

  2. Katherine SedgwickJuly 20, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    Lucky house indeed! It is a stunner. (Or at least, it will be!)