Porch Restoration: Finding the Right Materials
To restore the porch to its original 1828 configuration and still meet modern safety standards, the archeological team combined old materials and construction techniques with new ones. The original porch roof had consisted of tiles laid on cane sheathing and round pole rafters. For much of this part of the restoration, the crew could use nineteenth-century techniques and materials.
The adobe columns and rafter attachments were a different story. Since these had failed in the Fort Tejon earthquake, it wasn’t a good idea to reconstruct them exactly as they had been. The adobe column foundations were reinforced with concrete and steel. And the round pole rafters were attached to the Casa with steel anchors buried deep within the adobe matrix of the walls, rather than just mortar.
But where did the wood for 85 rafter poles and the heavy horizontal support beams come from? The archeological team came up with an innovative solution for what was potentially an expensive problem. The 1993 Marre fire in the Los Padres National Forest had damaged several hillsides leaving large, old growth trees in danger of collapse and many small Jeffery and Digger pines scarred by fire. Mike Imwalle got permission from the National Forest Service to harvest trees for the restoration project from the burned region. Everyone was covered in soot and the beams were heavy to carry out, but the small yellow pines planted in the early 1960s made perfect rafters.
The sandstone retaining wall was also rebuilt by using in-situ stones and replacing missing stones. The crew used the archeological remains of the original steps to determine where to rebuild the new ones.