Local Builder Helps Historical Society Repair One of Watertown’s Oldest Houses

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Photo by Charlie Breitrose The Edmund Fowle House during a Treaty Day celebration.

Submitted by Joyce Kelly & Marilynne Roach, Historical Society of Watertown

In November 2022 Patrick Mulroy, builder, remodeler, historic preservationist, and owner of ReModern Builders, contacted the Historical Society. Recently moved to Church Street in Watertown and wishing to become personally and professionally involved in the community, he offered us a donation of skilled labor from his carpenters.

We met with Patrick at the Edmund Fowle House where we showed him a few projects that needed to be done but were on hold for lack of funds. He told us he was “excited to be able to not only donate to the upkeep of a historic resource, but participate in it as well.” (The Fowle House is on the National Register of Historic Places.) 

Patrick decided to take on the project of the side porch entrance door. The door was failing – cracked and separating in several places, allowing light, air and moisture to enter the house. Its rubber weatherstripping had hardened and lost all pliability – no longer serving a purpose. Patrick noticed that the panel pattern on the side door did not match the front door which dates to the 1870s when renowned Watertown architect, Charles Brigham, purchased and renovated this house.

The current side door was installed during the 2004-2008 restoration.

The side door (on left) has 6 panels and the front door (on right) has 4 panels – a long panel on top and a short panel below. (Photos courtesy of Joyce Kelly)

Looking at some old photos of the Fowle House, Patrick noticed that back when the house was first moved, the door panel patterns matched.

Both doors match in this photo from pre-1896.

The front door currently on the house is the door you see in this photo, with some repairs done over the years. So, he decided to donate a side door that looks like our front door. However, the new door would have to be built from scratch. Patrick wanted to use long-lasting material – mahogany and tricoya. The existing hardware would be repaired and reused. Patrick donated all of the materials and labor for this job.

We also had an issue with our front and the surrounding woodwork. One of the panels was cracked, and the wood around the bottom of the sidelights was rotting and needed to be replaced. We hired Patrick’s ReModern Builders to work on this project in addition to the job he was donating. We did not know we would receive a wonderful surprise upon its completion.

ReModern Builders carpenter Juan Carlos Gatica came to do the work on these jobs assisted by Javier Guardado, apprentice.

The front door surround was a bigger job than anticipated. The wood below the sidelight was rotted, as was the door sill and a small portion of the bottom of the door. Carlos replaced the cracked panel and all the rotted wood on the frame as well as some rotted wood at the bottom of the door. He also sloped the new door sill so that water can no long pool on it, and altered the right side of the door frame so that the door no longer sticks and now opens easily.

We are very impressed with Carlos’s craftsmanship! He was very meticulous in his work and you can tell he cares about the work he does.

The woodwork was replaced below the sidelights of the front door.
The side door and the front door now have the same panel patterns.

Both projects were completed in a few weeks. When we got the invoice, we were astounded that the price for the front door was ZERO ! Patrick Mulroy donated all of the materials and all of the labor for both jobs !! This was a gift of thousands of dollars! The Historical Society of Watertown is so grateful for his generous donations.

Both doors look wonderful with the new door sweeps, the spring bronze weather stripping and the fresh coats of paint.

See more about ReModern Builders at www.facebook.com/ReModernBuilders

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