It has been a long and challenging task to restore the historic ‘barracks’ building, (the only limestone building known to have been built in Cobourg), from its state of near ruin when acquired by the Cobourg Museum Foundation in 2000. (see Projects/the Barracks/Restoration)
Significant progress was made in 2009 with the reinforcing of the limestone wall foundation and the installation of a removable wood plank floor with a mechanical service chase around its perimeter. The chase allows the concealed distribution of electrical outlets supplied by six 15-amp circuits, as well as an improved method of ventilating the space below the wood plank floor. With these major improvements the building can soon be used for meetings and eventually put to its permanent adaptive re-use as the key exhibit venue of the Sifton – Cook Heritage Centre.
The floor, designed to carry a public occupancy load, was constructed on a treated wood-frame structural grid supported by a network of variable height concrete piers on concrete footings. A heavy polyethylene vapour barrier was installed over the earth below the footings to restrict migration of soil moisture into the floor structure.
The need to reinforce the limestone foundation was discovered after an archaeological excavation inside the building revealed that the lime and sand mortar mix, traditionally used in European buildings, had virtually dissolved in the more severe Canadian climate. This simple fact reinforces the suspicion that the building was built by Europeans. One possible theory is that the building was erected by retired British troops following the War of 1812.
The reinforcing of the foundation required excavation of a trench around the interior and exterior of the limestone walls, the installation of formwork, and the pouring and finishing of concrete to create a six inch wide structural cladding around the base of the building. A waterproof coating was applied to the exterior concrete prior to backfilling the trenches.
Completion of this project and previous restoration work has relied on the volunteer efforts of both CMF members and of corporate supporters of the Foundation. In this regard, particular thanks go out to Behan Construction, Stalwood Homes, and WUIS Brothers Concrete Formwork for providing both construction equipment and the volunteer time of their staff. Further support was provided in the form of cost reductions by suppliers of the concrete and other building materials.
Finally, the Foundation wishes to acknowledge the generous funding support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation in making this work possible.