2011 Renovation: Basement / “Wine Cellar”
The north basement features a building style and materials consistent with late-17th or 18th-century techniques. The high-ceilinged English basement features pit-sawn ceiling beams and brick foundation walls. Traces of whitewash remain, providing evidence that the basement was living space. The mortar is of lime and oyster shell, the plaster of horsehair and oyster shell. The hand-hewn beams are mortise and tenon joins. The floor is herringbone brick.
At some point during the late 20th century, a large fireplace opening in the north chimney was cemented over, pneumatic poles were installed as “temporary” support for ceiling beams, and modern HVAC ducting was run criss-cross beneath the ceiling.
During a substantial 2011-2012 restoration project sensitive to the historical aspects (led by restoration craftsman Gordon Wilkins), the beams were carefully reinforced allowing the removal of support poles, and new more compact HVAC ducting was installed in non-obtrusive fashion. In addition, reconstruction workers laid a period-style fireplace in front of the cement-covered original, creating both a solid structural support for the chimney and floor-joists above, and creating an attractive wine-cellar addition. Additional wine storage is now installed in the original “closet” space – possibly originally used as storage or at some point as an indoor privy – which is set in the side of the large original chimney.
The additional wine storage sits behind the rehung original late 17th- or early 18th-century door which was found with broken hinges stored in an outbuilding near the main house; the “new” hinges have been custom forged as period-appropriate, by local blacksmith John Careatti using ancient techniques. (Careatti has done other custom ironwork during the renovation at Mahockney.)