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Historic Timber Frame Preservation

As carpenters versed in traditional methods of joinery and new timber frame construction it’s only natural that we would also work in historic timber frame construction as well. Historic preservation of timber frames and log buildings is a broad subject. For us here at Trillium Dell it encompasses several specific areas: historic restoration, building conservation, historic replication, and trade preservation. Over the years Trillium Dell has been involved in the restoration and conversion for adaptive re-use of hundreds of structures.

Many of our restoration projects have been barns converted to homes or educational and interpretive centers. Over the years Trillium Dell has reconstructed and repaired more timber frame barns than any other company in the Midwest. Our restoration projects have mostly been centered in Illinois however we have many previous projects scattered throughout the US, most of which are available for you to visit by appointment.

Since the mid 1990’s Trillium Dell has been employed in all manner of historic preservation. We typically are involved the preservation of historic timber structures such as church steeple frames, structural timber frame roof trusses on commercial buildings such as court houses, schools and other public structures, and the restoration of heavy timber wall, floor and sill systems. Our attitude towards historic preservation is in regard to the entire structure which is why we often take care of other elements in the building. Often we perform historic window and door restoration and replication as well as: wooden shingle roofs (especially oak shingle roofs), clapboard and board and batten siding, built in gutters, trim replication, and other types of historic carpentry. The bulk of work in this category has been on barns, however it has included 6 story grist mills, schools, 19th century downtown buildings and storefronts, period homes (Victorian and craftsman style), churches, and log buildings (cabins) as well.

Building Conservation has been a key part of our work since 2000. We began to survey and document buildings for clients, since that time we have documented hundreds of building and provided survey services via a site visit for hundreds more. At Trillium Dell we take a whole building approach to conservation of historic structures. Our process involves an initial consultation after which we provide a contract to perform survey and documentation services. Our surveys include: historical and timeline research, dendrochronology and species identification, survey photos, building drawings, recommendations, potential scopes of work, and ultimately if requested a bid from Trillium Dell to perform historic restoration or preservation. The integrity of the fabric of the building is of key importance.

Over the years we have been asked to replicate historic structures out of heavy timber. Projects have included Thoreau’s cabin on the small end, to replicating the entire historic Fort Massac in Metropolis, IL. The Ft Massac replica was based on architectural findings of Fever River Research, replicated at our shop, and shipped in pieces to Metropolis, IL. We have also been worked on fire damaged structures like the original Iowa Capitol Building in Iowa City, Iowa. We recreated the bell tower and octagonal cupola from the charred remains, thru our research the structure was successfully replicated and re-installed as a duplicated of the original.

Trade preservation is critical to our work here at Trillium Dell. Trade preservation ties in hand and hand with historic conservation. The Timber Framers at Trillium Dell are some of the most qualified historic restoration carpenters for heavy timber in the country. Our involvement with the Timber Framers Guild Apprentice and Journey Worker program includes a training section devoted entirely to the documentation, restoration, and rebuilding of historic timber structures. Due to our flexibility and project management team we are able to work on historic timber structures anywhere in the US affordably, and efficiently. We generally perform the bulk of our restoration and replication work in the shop, and then ship the frames back out for re-erection, but we can also work on in-situ projects on site.

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