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Randall House Museum fundraises for costly chimney repairs

Cost of maintaining heritage house is a big one, says curator

WOLFVILLE, NS – The Randall House Museum is looking to raise money for repairs needed on both of its chimneys.

Museum curator Krystal Tanner was shocked to find the crumbling brick at first, but in a house that’s over 200 years old, this is standard stuff, she says.

It’s just what comes with preserving a heritage house, especially when it functions as a museum.

“For 200 years of disintegration, this could be a lot worse, but it’s still so expensive,” said Tanner.


What needs fixing on each chimney

Both chimneys in the house are in need of repairs because their bricks are starting to crumble.

Tanner said the mason determined this was due to the house’s age, but also the parging that had been sealed over each chimney’s bricks, which didn’t allow it to expand and contract naturally.

One of the chimneys will need more repairs, since it’s still used for furnace heat at the museum.

“This sounded pretty shocking to me at first, but he explained this is routine stuff for an older house, and that it doesn’t look overly bad,” says Tanner.


What the repairs will do

The repairs will remove all parging – which can be peeled off, it’s so thin and brittle – and replace affected bricks, leaving those that are still strong.

The cost is estimated to reach $2,000, permitting no further issues are found once the mason begins work.

If any problems arise, particularly around the chimney’s upper section on the roof, the price tag would skyrocket to tens of thousands of dollars.

“We’re really hoping nothing else is found. But this is an old house, so who knows – it’s hard to tell at this point,” says Tanner.


The ongoing cost of repairs and restorations

The chimneys are just one item on a list of repairs at the museum, most of which are considered routine maintenance on a heritage house.

The foundation’s parging also needs to go, cracks in windows need fixing and floor boards in the house’s attic could need reinforcing.

While this may sound like a laundry list, Tanner says this still is just maintenance.

But since each project comes with its own price tag, they are prioritized and tackled only when they become the chief priority.

Grant applications are available to help buildings such as the Randall House, but can be tricky to qualify for.

The chimneys, for example, did not qualify for a certain funding since they are on the inside, rather than outside, of the house.


‘I love this little house’

But this doesn’t phase Tanner one bit, since caring for the museum as its curator for three years has made it feel like caring for her own home.

Tanner, with the Wolfville Historical Society, will have a table at the Dec. 9 Wolfville Farmers Market, where books will be sold and donations accepted for the chimney repair project.

Donations are also accepted at the museum, on the website and through mail, with tax receipts issued.

“I’ve come to know the house very well – every inch of it,” she says.

“I love this little house. I feel more at home here than I do anywhere else.”  

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