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  • David Leavitt

What Color is the Castle?

It seems like every day that Chelom and I are at the castle, there's a new discovery. Some of them are happy discoveries; others not so much. Still others are neither good nor bad discoveries--they just are.

For months, I've looked at the castle and seen a gray stone structure. A few days ago, as I was walking along the tower walkway that is accessed from John Templeton's bedroom, I noticed something I hadn't seen before: Red stone. Further examination revealed that the entire upper view rows of stone are not gray, but reddish. I was shocked to realize that if we wash the outside of the castle, that what we'll find is a castle that looks considerably different than what it looks like now.

Whether to scrub the exterior of the castle is a bit of a debate, it seems, among historical building folk. Some favor the older patina that the structure has earned through the centuries, while others view restoration as bringing the castle back to what it would have looked like when it was newer. Chelom and I fall in the camp of those who believe that a good scrubbing is a must every century or two. And so, as part of this process we'll gradually wash the castle off, in hopes of restoring its original look. We'll undertake the task of washing the castle a bit at a time in conjunction with when we have scaffolding set up on various parts of the castle. That will allow us to get to the higher elevations.

An important consideration is how to give the castle a good wash. Many modern chemicals will eat away the old stone, so you've got to be careful what you use as a solution to get the layers of history off the building. Another problem is that if you wash the castle with a high pressure washer, you'll eat away the stone. So the trick is to use low pressure with the mildest of detergents.

Chelom and I have hope we've discovered the perfect remedy. It's a system called the Doff Steam Cleaning System. It heats the water to a temperature of 150 degrees Celsius (300+ degrees Fahrenheit. The combination of low pressure and 300F water, and it renders old castles new again. We're really excited to start that process and to see what colors actually come out of the process.

The Youtube video below shows the process. Pretty amazing!

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