The Story: Many of Maine’s historic structures were initially constructed from old growth wood harvested from trees hundreds of years old. The wood from these trees is much harder, stronger, and less prone to insects, fungus, warping, or damage than the softer, new wood commercially available today. Because the nearly all of these ancient trees have been cut down and are no longer readily available in nature, this wood is preserved in the structural timbers, floors, shingles, and windows of historic buildings and cannot be replaced.
The Threat: Gutting of buildings, wholesale replacement of clapboards, trim and windows and other “modernizations” that purport to save homeowners time and money are actually more expensive than repair. The reliable historic materials are replacedwith materials substantially less durable, guaranteeing increased maintenance costs. The loss of these materials also undermines the historic integrity of buildings.
The Solution: Education about the reparability, durability, cost and energy efficiency of repair and maintenance rather than replacement. Like old growth forests, once this wood is gone, it’s gone forever.