Selected Projects – John Leeke, Preservation Consultant

Victoria Mansion (Morse-Libby Mansion, National Landmark), Portland, Me 1989-2022

The society that owns this high-style Italianate mansion operates it as an historic house museum. They asked me to help them care for the exterior woodwork and windows. I surveyed and reported on conditions, then developed a ten-year maintenance program and helped implement the program. I trained local tradespeople in the special skills needed to preserve woodwork and apply a special sanded-paint finish. (See my article in Old House Journal May 91, “Sanded Paint”). I continue to advise on window preservation, exterior paint and woodwork issues and supervise ongoing maintenance work.

Victoria Society of Maine
Portland, Maine 04101

April 10, 1995

To Whom It May Concern:

Reference for John Leeke:
John Leeke has provided restoration/conservation services to the Society since 1989. He has worked directly with the Mansion’s Restoration Committee and with me as Director to implement conservation and restoration of the exterior and interior wooden fabric of Victoria Mansion. His ability to conserve/stabilize original architectural elements of period structures is creditable, particularly so as he analyzes the variables of materials and structure to devise and test potential treatments preliminary to execution.

John’s work is thorough and well executed, always within contract budget and schedule, and has greatest predictable life of any similar work executed under my administration as a project manager.

John can be depended on for careful and accurate communication with staff, committees and trustees — he is articulate and patient. He does not deal in change orders and cost-overruns, his specifications and estimates are accurate and firm, and the quality of his project reflects the level of competence which he brings to a project.

It is a pleasure to recommend John Leeke as a vendor of conservation/restoration services, and I would welcome questions regarding his work.

Bruce T. Sherwood
(then) Director, Victoria Society of Maine

Morse Home, Payne, Ohio, 1996

The Morses realized their fine old home had a few major problems and several minor ones. They called me in to survey conditions and help them set priorities. One long-standing problem was peeling paint. I tracked down the cause–excessive moisture in the cellar. I helped the Morses understand how the moisture rises up through the house and passes out through the walls causing the paint to peel. I made drainage and ventilation recommendations to mitigate the moisture.    

Then I revealed the original yellow-ochre paint colors on clapboards and trim by scraping down through the layers of paint and recommended specific paint materials and methods. After two years of implementing my recommendations they feel like they are back in control.

“Thanks again for your expert advice and guidance! We are able to work together now that my husband has become a “believer”, thanks to your expertise. You were very professional and helped us tremendously.”

— Nancy and John Morse, Payne, Ohio

Lincoln County Historical Association, Wiscasset, Maine, 2003

The timber-framed Pownalborough Court House was built in 1761. The Old Jail was built of granite blocks in 1811. I assessed conditions of both buildings and made prioritized recommendations for maintenance and preservation. This work was done under a grant from the Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) of Heritage Preservation.




Allard Home, Manchester, New Hampshire

March 5, 2001

Dear John,

Seven and a half years ago you assessed our prospective home. After actually walking us through, pointing out your findings, you produced a report that spelled out the features unique to our home that became the basis for our restoration. One of the most important things you did was advising us on the type of workmanship we should look for in bringing the home back to its original grandeur.

That consulting has paid for itself by educating us in being “savvy” old home owners. We followed your advice in keeping all the original touches in the home (both inside and outside) and at the same time we made choices to modernize the home without sacrificing its character Among other things, we brought new electrical service in underground, ran phone, speaker and video to most of the home’s 19 rooms and we added a generator as added security for my family when I travel.

We have brought everything up to date, there is no deferred maintenance left! We’ve loved our “mansion” and are ready now to capitalize on the improvements and the increase in value we’ve seen in our family’s major asset. Please feel free to use this information as a testimonial and please keep in touch.

Best regards,

John Allard



Maine College of Art and Design, Portland, Maine, (National Register), 1998

Photo Credit: John Bald

The front facade of this early 1900s department store was refurbished in 1998. The work included the repair and restoration of 133 Chicago-style and arched-top windows. I surveyed and assessed conditions of all windows, recommended strategies, materials and methods to the architects, wrote specifications for the work and trained work crews in the special procedures and techniques needed for this specialized work. See an article about this project in Traditional Building magazine.


Parson Smith House, Windham, Me , 1991-92

This is a Mid-Georgian house built in 1764. Under contract to SPNEA, I did a conditions survey and wrote a report with specific treatments and recommendations and helped investigate the physical history of the house. I planned a project to upgrade the house so it could be sold and used as a private residence. I supervised heating, masonry, woodworking, window, landscaping, plaster and electrical contractors. (See my article, Old-House Journal, Sept. 1993, “High-tech help for Primitive Plaster”.


Carnegie Hall, New York City, 1999


Nine-hundred windows have been restored at this landmark building. I trained the woodworking crew in specialized window conservation techniques. Workers learned how to do wood/epoxy repairs on window sills and frames. Here the worker applies Abatron LiquidWood consolidant and Abatron WoodEpoxy paste filler to fill weather checks in the wooden sill.


Pejepscot Historical Society, Brunswick, Maine, 1999


The Skolfield-Whittier House is a 19th and early 20th century “time capsule,” complete with early furnishes, fixtures and the accumulations of daily life in those days. The Joshua Chamberlain House was built in the 1820s and renovated by Chamberlain in 1871. The Conservation Assessment was helpful in obtaining a Save America’s Treasures grant to implement CAP recommendations.


Taylor House, Waterboro Center, Me 1991-92

This 1850’s Greek Revival house has been preserved and developed as an historical education center by the Town of Waterboro. I surveyed the interior decorative features and identified the historic importance of early wallpapers and decorative faux painting. An additional general survey of conditions and historic character helped the committee develop a maintenance program. I wrote specifications for a porch reconstruction project and supervised structural repairs to the barn.


Phiadelphia City Hall, 1999


Advised the architect on methods and materials for the preservation of windows, and contributed to the window restoration project specifications.


Roof Down Training Site, National Park Service, 1999

I wrote and provided the technical content for an online training program for exterior woodwork and weather envelop issues.

From the Roof Down & Skin Deep: What Your Historic House Really Wants from You, is a new long-distance learning program targeted to help owners, developers, managers, and tradespeople understand the benefits of maintaining the exterior “skins” of historic buildings and the costly consequences of failing to do so. Sponsored by The National Park Service’s Technical Preservation Services, the innovative web class is free to all, and fun to use, too. You can log on to the Roof Down website with your internet browser at:


Federal Standards, 1995-2004


Several of my exterior woodwork and window repair methods have been specifically adopted and set as official standards by the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories, Cultural Resources Research Center, in their “Guide for Historic Window Repair and Replacement; and by the General Services Administration in their Historic Preservation Technical Procedures, which is part of their Historic Federal Buildings Program.


National Park Service, Technical Preservation Services Division, 2000-2003

As part of their Partnership Program I act as an outside expert to assist NPS staff in replying to technical questions from the public about exterior weather envelop issues and building preservation.


Jonathan Fisher House, Blue Hill, ME, 1993-96

Architects called me in to this project to plan structural repairs using traditional framing and modern wood/epoxy repairs methods. I surveyed building conditions, assessed structural conditions and helped assemble an effective team of specialists, engineers and contractors. Training of carpenters in traditional and epoxy repair methods was an important part of this work. See Old-House Journal, Sept. 1996, “Techniques for Two Timbers”.


Southern College, Chattanooga, TN 1988

The maintenance department was about to replace four 40′ tall wood columns on the administration building at a cost of $60,000. I made a trip to Tennessee to diagnose the problem and recommended repairs rather than replacement. The next season I returned to supervise replacement and repairs. I trained the carpentry and paint crews of the college maintenance department in the special woodworking and wood/epoxy repair skills needed. This approach saved at least $20,000. over replacement and gave the maintenance department new abilities for more effective maintenance on this and other buildings.


Blaine House (Governor’s Mansion), Augusta, Maine 1992-98

Surveyed roof conditions, determined sources of leaks and recommended an approach for project planning. Advised on restoration of exterior woodwork and gutters.


Weeks Brick House, (National Register) Greenland, NH, 1994-95

This early 18th Century brick building is owned by the Weeks Family Association which preserves the house for its historical significance. I assembled a team to survey conditions and determine architectural character. The result was a written analysis and report with color photography including a prioritized action list of recommendations to upgrade the condition of the building with a major corrective maintenance project and to establishing a cyclic maintenance program. A graphic brochure was developed to explain the recommendations to the board and to sell the recommendations to the membership at large.

A second contract provided consulting services to manage maintenance at the house for a year and manage the corrective maintenance project. I assessed the current maintenance program and help the building committee set maintenance goals and objectives. Maintenance programming and project development are currently under way.

In 1995 consulting services included the planning and management of a $50,000. project to carefully refurbish the house for residential tenancy. Work included training carpenters in special wood window refurbishment using epoxy materials for sill and sash treatments. This project was presented as part of the 1996 Strawbery Banke Preservation Field School.


Fort Western, Augusta, Me 1989

National Historic Landmark built in 1754, Inspected wood shingle roof to determine conditions and causes of deterioration. Also discovered serious deterioration of brick masonry chimneys. Fort Western is owned and operated as a museum by the City of Augusta.


Goodall House, Sanford, Me 1978-1989

I developed and implemented a maintenance program for this large French Second Empire residence built in 1871 and remodeled with an extensive Colonial Revival porch in 1910. The program identified and prioritized maintenance costs over several years. I wrote work orders and specifications for each project and helped the owner select tradesmen and contractors. I supervised work and evaluated results for the owner.


Fort Edgecomb, Edgecomb, ME 1996 (National Landmark)

Repaired door threshold and surveyed fort conditions and made recommendations for further conditions assessment and historical investigations for the State of Maine Department of Conservation.


Fort Knox, Bucksport, ME 1988

Granite fort built in 1844, consulted on salt-induced decay of woodwork in officer’s quarters caused by leaching water in masonry. Supervised chemical testing and prepared report for the State of Maine Department of Conservation.


Sabathday Lake Shakers, Maine (National Register) 1998

Preserved 14 windows at the Horse Barn, including complete sash refurbishment, traditional and wood-epoxy repairs, reglazing, conservation of historic glass, frame repairs, sill weather-check treatments, complete painting.


Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress (National Landmark), Washington, DC 1991

I made an onsite inspection of wood decay problem on a project with 600 windows. Wood/epoxy repairs had deteriorated significantly after just 18 months of service. I took samples, performed chemical analysis to determine the cause of decay and advised the contractor on methods and materials for more effective treatment.


Henry Cobb residence, North Haven Island, Me. 1990

Advised architect-homeowner on maintenance of 18th century farm house.


Historic Northampton, Northampton, MA 1991-94

Under contract to SPNEA, I co-authored an Historic Structures Report for three houses. I surveyed and reported on conditions with recommendations for maintenance and gave a two day workshop on maintenance programming to the board and staff. I investigated the historical development of the buildings using a “building archeology” approach and documented the findings with photography and drawings. Measured drawings included complete floor plans and room elevations developed on a computerized drafting system. Follow up included developing a drainage program and review of maintenance procedures.

This project was partially funded by the Institute of Museum Services, Conservation Project Support Program.

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