Breakers Shepard Avenue Gates Restored
The newly restored north side driveway gates of The Breakers were reinstalled in April. The two large gate sections, each weighing more than 5,000 pounds, as well as the crown of the gate, were lifted into place by a crane and then bolted and welded into place by Dan and Rich Buschgans of Lodi Welding of New Jersey, which also completed the restoration of the main Breakers gates on Ochre Point Avenue two years ago. Funding for both projects was provided by the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust and the Loebs Family Foundation. Lodi Welding has been recognized by the Preservation Society with a Laurel Award for artisanship for its work on the gate.
Award-Winning Restoration of The Breakers Gates Continues
The Preservation Society's restoration of the main gates of The Breakers was honored with a Rhody Award from Preserve Rhode Island and the RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission. The Rhody Awards honor individuals, organizations and projects for their contributions to the preservation of Rhode Island's historic resources. In presenting the award, the organizations noted that the Preservation Society “recognized that restoring the gates to their former glory was an important investment in one of their signature properties and a critical step in preserving the historic character of the streetscape.”
Work is now underway on the restoration of the north side gates, and those on the Cliff Walk, by Lodi Welding of New Jersey. Continued funding is being provided by the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust and the Loebs Family Foundation.
Restoring the Entrance Gates of The Breakers
The front gates of The Breakers are a design masterpiece, providing an elegant and theatrical entry to the grand house beyond. But the gates—as well as the fence surrounding the estate—are in desperate need of repair and restoration after more than 100 years of use and exposure to the weather.
Funded by a $325,000 grant from the Alletta Morris McBean Foundation, the restoration of the gates is expected to be about a six-month process.
Besides suffering from extensive rust and actual loss of decorative elements, the gates are sagging, according to Properties Director Curt Genga. "They sag about two inches," says Genga," because they were not welded, they were just bolted together, so the framework isn't strong enough." Genga suspects, in fact, that the gates started to sag not long after they were finished.
The two large gates, each weighing approximately 5,000 pounds, will be completely dismantled, and the wrought iron pieces sandblasted to clean them and remove all paint and rust. Then each individual piece will be inspected and damaged elements either repaired or replaced. Every piece and section will be marked, and the pieces sent out to be galvanized, a process in which they are dipped into liquid zinc at 800 degrees, which makes them impervious to rust.
The pieces will then be re-assembled to ensure that they fit together properly, and hundreds of screw holes re-drilled. The gates will be dis-assembled again for painting, and finally re-assembled on site.
The Loebs Family Foundation has also committed $100,000 toward the creation of a blacksmithing shop to allow the Preservation Society's own craftsmen to conduct wrought iron fence repairs in-house. Ultimately, it's hoped that enough funding can be found to restore the entire perimeter fence around the estate, about 1/3 of a mile long.