The Rye Meeting House on Milton Road has regained its historic clerestory and a cedar roof has replaced the non-historic asphalt shingles.
The Rye Meeting House on Milton Road has regained its historic clerestory and a cedar roof has replaced the non-historic asphalt shingles. The Bird Homestead nonprofit, which operates the Meeting House, oversaw the restoration, working with preservation architects Walter Sedovic and Jill Gotthelf. To ensure historical accuracy, the architects sent samples of the original 19th-century roof shingles to the U.S. Forestry Laboratory to test the species of wood, which was red cedar.
The cedar shingles not only bring back the historic appearance, but they allow the building to breathe better than it did with an asphalt roof. They also lighten the weight on the structure.
The clerestory, a row of operable windows built over the roofline, appears in historic photos of the building into the 1950s. Its windows enhance the interior by admitting natural light from above, giving the space the quality it had historically. The clerestory also possesses energy-saving properties. Hot air will escape through the high, open windows in summer, cooling the building without consuming electricity, thereby creating a sustainable, passive system. Reconstructing this lost feature from the past has made the building more sustainable.
A clerestory is a frequent element of church architecture. Before its purchase by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1959, the Meeting House was Grace Chapel (also known as Milton Chapel) and affiliated with Rye’s Christ’s Church. The building’s use is entirely secular now, as space for the nonprofit’s educational programs on coastal ecology, historic preservation, science, sustainability, and the legacy of the Bird family, as well as concerts.
The project was funded, in part, by a grant from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, obtained by the Bird Homestead through the Consolidated Funding Application, and matched with private donations from the community.