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Atwood House Preservation and Restoration Project

The Chatham Historical Society’s centerpiece is the Joseph Atwood House, dating from circa 1752. For many years it was in need of significant repairs, and in 2009 a major project of preservation and restoration was undertaken. Various aspects of this project are documented here on the Atwood House & Museum website:

See the 2011 Chatham Historic Preservation Award plaque presented to the Atwood House for the restoration work. The citation on the award plaque reads:


The Atwood House was built around 1756 - the date based on tree ring pattern analysis - by Joseph Atwood. In 1833, John Atwood built the first addition for his second wife, Margery. It was called the “summer kitchen”, but was not much to Margery’s liking, since she had been promised an entirely new house. When she confronted her husband about it, he told her that was just “courting talk”. In 1926, the house was purchased by the Chatham Historical Society, and ever since has been open to the public as a museum of Chatham’s past.

When it became clear that the old building needed substantial work to preserve it, the museum director asked a preservation historian and carpenter, along with structural engineers, to make recommendations on how to proceed. All agreed that the restoration was to be “surgical”; in other words, that damaged materials would be replaced using original technology -- hand-hewn, using ax and adze. The chimney, which had been rebuilt in recent years with modern materials, was replaced with historically accurate soft brick and lime mortar. Windows were restored with hand blown glass.