McMillian House Summary Report

The McMillian House is located within the boundries of Gettysburg National Park. It was constructed in two separate phases with the original home being built in 1840  1841 and the addition being built in the 1890's It is within the area where the Battle of Gettysburg was held yet is privately owned.


A Flexible Project Design Philosophy

A Flexible Project Design Philosophy

When Brookline begins a project, we consider the building as the primary client. This is an essential approach for the contractor and the owner of the building to agree on. We consider ourselves to be co-stewards with you of your historic landmark, and we want to move forward with care and with the needs of the building forefront in our project planning.

A typical construction project design process begins with the owner's needs. The owner's needs are then translated into a concept, a design and plans, and then into the low-bid process. It is a straightforward timeline of events.

When the typical design process is used on historic buildings, the building always suffers. Here is why: Unknowns are inherent in any conservation project. Decisions about treatments are made too early, before adequate discovery is done. Contractors submit prices designed to get the job, expecting to make money on the change orders. Realistic pricing that accounts for unknowns is not put forward at the beginning of the project. Right from the beginning, the contractor and owner are in an adversarial relationship. When new conditions are discovered mid-project, the contractor submits change orders, which throw the budget and the schedule out the window. Inevitably, decisions are made to cut the building to fit the budget, the schedule, and the owner's needs.

Truly Authentic Historic Preservation begins with a project design that is evolutionary, not uni-directional, as in the above "typical design process." This means that the project is considered and planned in phases, with milestones and goals decided in advance for each phase. Each phase must begin with adequate discovery and testing, so that realistic information and pricing can be gathered. All members of the project design team must be prepared at any time to stop work and reevaluate if an unexpected condition is encountered.

Brookline knows that budgets are not unlimited, and that a scope of work is needed in order to proceed intelligently. We are seeking relationships with individuals and organizations where the needs of the building can be addressed adequately. Pricing a historic project is impossible to do all at the beginning. Once full discovery is completed, project estimates can be built that provide a loose framework for the phase of work. Dealing with "unforeseens" means communicating openly about what is discovered mid-project, and then adjusting to meet the needs of the building and the owner. Our proposal allows flexibility to make changes in the treatments required, potentially saving money, and certainly reducing stress, confusion, and unnecessary changes to schedules and budgets.

Contact us today for all your Historic Preservation and Restorations on your old and historic home.

Our Commitment to Authentic Building Preservation

Our Commitment to Authentic Building Preservation

Brookline has a track record and a reputation for historic preservation that is truly authentic. We believe deeply that using the original materials is the only way to complete work on historic structures. We are committed to doing what is best for the building in terms of longevity, as well as preserving the original look and feel, where possible. We hire only very skilled craftspeople to execute the projects that Brookline undertakes. We offer conservation services, including lead testing, mortar analysis, structural discovery, and whole Building Evaluation Reports (BER's).

Where masonry is concerned, a commitment to original materials is especially crucial. Natural lime mortar is vapor permeable, allowing moisture to escape quickly from masonry walls. This eliminates moisture problems for framing, trim, and the other wood elements in a building. Repointing and repairs will always be executed using natural lime mortar. Portland cement destroys old buildings by breaking masonry units, We also go to lengths to use original brick, stone, and mortar aggregates/additives, wherever the customer will support the extra effort required. We offer mortar analysis to isolate the color and size of aggregates, and any other additives used (such as animal hair, oyster shells, pigments, etc.)

In Brookline's Millwork Division, we take on projects that allow us to reproduce the original profiles and assembly techniques. We believe that an investment in preservation means using materials that will resist the weather in exterior applications. That is why we always use cedar, mahogany, or other rot-resistant woods as the raw material for doors, windows, and other exterior parts. Even though this is usually a change from the original material, it represents an improvement that protects your investment, while remaining congruent with the original look and feel of the building.



St Astier Natural Hydraulic Limes (NHL) Specially formulated mortar, based on Natural Hydraulic Lime and aggregates for the repair or simulation of masonry, brick or stone. Lithomex is a neutral white or pre coloured mortar to which mixing water is added.

Shaping and forming of details can be carried out for up to 1 week after placing by scraping to profile or level with metal tools, such as the edge of a trowel or steel float however most shaping and finishing work can be done within 24 hours. Sculpting, using appropriate tools, requires waiting up to a week or more depending on the weather conditions. Its unique qualities allow it to be tooled, shaped and sculpted even after the final set has taken place. This affords sufficient time to achieve the very highest standard of work with the best quality reproduction.

Where ashlar masonry or very finely jointed masonry has had considerable damage to the arises, flush finishing in Lithomex with a false struck joint is the ideal solution. If building details are damaged and require repair prior to the facade being lime washed or painted, plain Lithomex should be used as it will readily accept lime washes and paints. On rendered areas Lithomex can be used to form decorative stone or brick features such as mouldings and cornices.

Porch Damage in Lancaster Pa

Porch Damage in Lancaster Pa?

If you have a damaged porch in the Lancaster Pa area and need a contractor to make the repairs correctly, we need to talk. Brookline Builders is the areas one stop home improvement business that will repair all of your porch damage. Whether a car ran into your porch or after years of neglect it just needs rotted wood replacement Brookline Builders is the one to call, we have done it all.

Looking for historic restorations on your porch to return the front of your home into a showpiece? Brookline has a complete mill shop ready and able to make any piece of replacement trim or baluster.



1. Before commencement of any removal of existing mortar, Contractor will collect a sample of the original pointing mortar.

2. Mortar sample shall be analyzed chemically to determine the actual ratio of sand, lime, and other materials in the mortar mix.

3. Mortar formula shall be provided to the customer.

4. Prior to start of the work, a field sample panels shall be prepared to demonstrate: Protection of adjacent masonry from damage. Containment of debris. Masonry cleaning by hand and by mechanical methods. Cutting and removal of existing mortar. Cleaning and preparation of the joints to be repointed or re-bedded. Installation of bedding and pointing mortar. Finish color and texture of joints to be repointed, using provided formula.

5. Prior to start of work, Contractor shall obtain approval of sample panel from Customer.



1. Bedding and lime pointing mortar should be placed only if air and masonry temperatures are between 40°F (4°C) and 80°F (27°C), and the air is relatively calm. Conditions must remain so for at least 48 hours after completion of work. If conditions are not within these parameters, Contractor shall take all necessary measures to ensure that the manufacturer recommended protection and curing requirements are met, including as necessary, dampening of burlap, polyethylene sheeting, wind barriers, and other protection as needed.

2. The wall must be thoroughly wetted down at least 24 hours before work is begun. The wall must again be wetted down at the begining of the day then be monitored thru-out the day. If the wall drys out it will suck the moisture from the lime and the lime mortar will not reach it's compressive strenght.

3. Contractor must be aware that working conditions change thru the day. In the morning hours the temps will be cooler and the surface will not have direct sun. In the afternoon the mason must provide proper shade from direct sunlight or the lime will dry out to quickly. All masons on the project must constantly monitor the prewetting conditions and apply more water as needed to keep the wall at a proper moisture content.

4. Contractor shall not start work until joint faces and solid bedding have been prepared as approved.

5. Contractor shall not allow direct weather related water against mortar until it has reached its full cure.

These general guidelines for working with lime mortar are not complete and should only be used as a starting point. Using Lime Mortar requires extensive training. Contact Brookline for more information on how to use Lime Mortar and to purchase it.



Lime mortars have been used since time immemorial. With lime mortars all our buildings, prior to the advent of modern cement after 1915, have been built. The survival of most of these buildings for hundred and even thousands of years is a testimony to the durability of lime mortars.

Lime is produced by burning limestone (CaCO3)at temperatures below 1250oC traditionally in vertical kilns loaded from above and for a period of up to 48 hours. The material extracted from the furnaces is Quick Lime (CaO), typically in lumps. These, when in contact with water, exothermically disintegrate into smaller pieces varying from friable chunks to very fine particles. The process of water addition is called Slaking, hence a slaked lime is quick lime that has been hydrated or Hydrated Lime. If necessary the slaked lime is ground, once cooled down, into fine powder and bagged.

During the burning the limestone (CaCO3) loses CO2, hence the quick lime has the symbol of CaO. When exposed to air, some CO2 is reabsorbed, reconstituting CaCO3 or limestone. This process is called carbonation and its result is the hardening of the lime. In a mortar the lime has bound together the aggregates and by hardening produced the hardening of the mortar, normally expressed as Compressive Strength. Carbonation is a slow process and in damp or wet environments, is impeded by the moisture patina which forms over lime mortar surfaces obstructing the contact with air.(Lime mortars which are not hardened are very susceptible to adverse weather conditions and, in cold climates, can be easily damaged by frost.

If the limestone being burned contains hydraulic components (hydraulicity is the property of hardening in contact with water) such as silica (SiO2), alumina (Al2O3) and ferrites (Fe2O3) these will in total or part combine with the CaO forming Calcium Silicates, Calcium Aluminates and Calcium Ferrites. These combined elements harden in contact with water, producing Hydraulic Limes.(Mortar made with hydraulic limes will harden quicker that air lime mortars and will have a better performance in cold climates.

Today we are charged with the responsibility of ensuring the survival of our historical and vernacular built heritage through careful and considered conservation, restoration and renovation. All too often buildings are repaired with inappropriate materials and poor skills. Many are the subject of interventions that in time lead to their total loss. Others are simply changed out of all recognition. In most cases, the mortar used for repairs, restoration or conservation contains cement. In these buildings, the use of cement mortars promote condensation build up, salt reactions and, generally, drastically affects the long term survival of the building. Historic Masonry Repair for Brick and Stone Homes

Historic Preservation and Brookline Builders

Historic Preservation and Brookline Builders

Brookline Builders, Inc. has a concern for the preservation of historic buildings within our larger community. We have spent considerable time and resources developing expertise in repairing structures using original materials, and we offer this expertise to those who have been entrusted with the care of our area's important historic landmarks.

Brookline has skilled technicians in slate and copper roofing, woodworking, and historic brick and stone masonry. We keep this work "in house" so that we can closely monitor the quality of work of craftsman with whom we have long-term relationships.

We keep new and used slate in stock, and we have our own slate supplier--one of the best quarries in Vermont. Our own roofing department does the installation work.

We understand the old mortars and the dangers of modern mortar for historic structures.

We have a fully-equipped modern woodshop where we can reproduce any molding, cabinet, window or door that we find in need of replacement.

Brookline Builders, Inc. is the area's most capable preservation and restoration contractor. We take pride in our work safety track record, and keeping a clean and orderly jobsite during all phases of construction and repair.

Window Repairs in Lancaster Pa -- Brookline Builders

Window Repairs in Lancaster Pa -- Brookline Builders

Old windows are like the eyes into the soul of your old historic home. Don't replace them with new vinyl, restore them! Repairs to old windows can be likened to surgery and not something that should be taken lightly. Once the old wavy glass has been broken or the sash has been tossed into the dump it is gone forever.

Consider the vinyl windows and the repairs to them? Did you know that it is almost impossible to repair a vinyl window? When a new vinyl window sill breaks it must be tossed into the landfill and as vinyl ages in the sun it becomes more brittle. All vinyl windows will end up into the landfill.

If you have old historic windows that need to be replaced, consider repairs instead. Did you know that if you install a good new storm window that has Low-E glass it will act as a protector to your repaired, reglazed and repainted historic windows. I have seen old sash last 15 years or more without maintenance when protected by a good storm window. The storm window doesn't protect the window sill or outside jamb and these will require regular maintenance even if you do have a storm window.

Solid wood windows can be repaired over and over again. The glass can be reglazed, if the wood rots it can be either repaired or replaced. Act Green and don't install vinyl windows.

Brookline Builders has been restoring old homes in Lancaster Pa for over 20 years.

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