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A good fence made better at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm

October 19, 2015

SPL Fence Fig. 4

Every summer, crowds gather at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts, to watch baseball games played by nineteenth-century rules. Many enjoy the games while leaning against a rail fence that separates the ball field from the yard of the 1690 manor house. This fence recently underwent repairs by the Historic New England carpentry crew.

The four-rail fence appears in photographs as early as 1922. It is sturdy, practical, and, with its turned posts and decorative trim, elegant too. The current fence was built to match a deteriorated historic fence in 2003. By the fall of 2014, more than a decade of exposure to farm’s seaside weather left it in need of repairs.

Thanks to an elaborate and clever installation that used a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe sleeve and preservative-saturated sand below ground, all but one of the turned posts were still sound. The rails, however, needed replacement.

Our staff located material for new eastern white pine rails in Central Massachusetts and milled it to size in the Historic New England carpentry shop at the Lyman Estate. Repairs at the farm began in late fall 2014.

This fence now stands ready to withstand another decade of sunny baseball games and howling winter gales. Please consider helping us maintain the many other fences and structures that make up our historic sites with a gift to the Preservation Maintenance Fund.

See the step-by-step process below:

SPL Fence Fig. 1
Fence conditions in fall 2014
SPL Fence Fig. 2
One post had to be replaced. Farm staff and their tractor were a big help.
SPL Fence Fig. 3
In the 2003 rebuild, each post was installed in a PVC sleeve filled with sand and wood preservative. While this design could not protect the top of this post from the weather, it was remarkably successful below ground. This was the only post that needed replacement.
SPL Fence Fig. 5
We installed spacers in the grooves between the rails and fitted cap rails around the posts.
SPL Fence Fig. 6
A fresh coat of paint finished the job.
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A good fence made better at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm