Hyde Hall

Leader Head Project Underway

This fall Brian Chappell of Aurelius Restoration Services made significant new progress replicating the type of leader heads that once graced Hyde Hall.

Why are these leader heads worth laboring over?

A leader head is a kind of plenum that allows rain water from the gutters to gather in the box-like top section without backing up. Without the head or box section, water can only go into a narrow pipe and will back up during heavy downpours and run down the exterior walls. It will then soak into the mortar and limestone (yes, limestone is porous) where it will cause damage to both the exterior and interior of the entire wall.

Having already recreated and installed 4 large leader heads on the east façade, Brian has now crafted 2 smaller versions to be mounted on the right and left side of the Portico pediment. Recreating these leader heads and mounting them in the original 1820s holes drilled into the limestone exterior wall will help to alleviate the moisture issues at Hyde Hall, as they will efficiently direct water out of the gutters and into the downspouts that go into the ground and away from the house.

After considerable time spent finalizing the design of the smaller leader heads, in late November Brian installed them on either side of the Portico pediment. These two leader heads, like the four larger ones put up in June, 2019 on the Great House section of Hyde Hall’s east façade, are now functioning as planned.

All of the newly fashioned leader heads are constructed of copper, primed, and coated with the same Acrymax paint used to seal the roofs over the Great House so that they blend in with the roof and stone walls.

Our Hyde Hall team spent over 2 years researching correct styles for reconstructing the leader heads as we had no photos of the tin originals which likely rusted out and were taken down by the 1870s. Working with architects, architectural historians, antiques dealers, and others who provided images and artifacts for us to study and copy, we finally decided that we had come up with an historically appropriate and practical design. Our copper leader heads will be far more durable than the tin originals and should function well for many years. Along with Brian Chappell, members of Hyde Hall’s leader head team included Gib Vincent, Jonathan Maney, Carl Stearns, Jeremiah Rusconi, and Ed Polk Douglas.

In the spring Brian Chappell will create and install 6 more of the smaller leader heads in the Inner Courtyard to complete this project. Funds for this project came from private donors who recognized the need for reproducing as accurately as possible the elements of the drainage system that once worked well to protect Hyde Hall and keep it as dry as possible.


These images follow the progress of design and installation of a prototype leader head at Hyde Hall.  In spite of the weather a trial installation was made on November 29, 2018.  After evaluation, 5 further units will be installed on the east side of Hyde Hall to funnel water into the downspouts.

New Images Added on 12/18/19!

Click any image to open in carousel view.

Pictured below is Brian Chappell, Aurelius Restoration Services, Cayuga, New York

Kitchen Restoration Update – Jan 2018

The first step in restoring the brick kitchen is removing the heavily damaged late nineteenth century brick floor.  We are investigating what lies beneath before rebuilding the flooring.



Pickaxes and sledge hammers.


Much work to be done.



Not yet ready…for prime time or for laundry!


Lightweight building materials…note the chisel marks on the bottom of the stone sink.


It’s very cold!  And the work must go on…








Dining Room Carpet


Last spring, after artist Lori Wilson (Wilson Decorative Solutions, New Berlin, NY) restored the Dining Room walls to their marbleized 1833 appearance, we were ready to install the reproduction Brussels carpet designed by David Hunt of the Vermont Custom Rug Company. Woven on the looms of the Langhorne Carpet Company in Penndel, Penn., the highly figured Brussels carpet is an exact copy of the 1833 dining room carpet ordered by George Clarke. Closely examining original pieces of carpet that had survived on two ottomans still in our collections, David was able to precisely copy the colors and patterns that made up its body and border. With its installation in late October, Hyde Hall now boasts another great rarity in American house museums: a completely authentic copy of a carpet that once graced this elegant room. Next step: the restoration of the red, worsted wool figured damask curtains that will complete the transformation of our historic American dining room in the best French and English taste.

From Hyde Hall – Fall 2017 Newsletter

Staffmember Susan Yard Monroe Plays the Forte Piano

Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played on the Hyde Hall Forte Piano.

Created in Albany between 1830 and 1832, the Osborne & King forte piano is
now playable again thanks to a grant from Douglas Kent. Several new bronze strings
ordered from London replaced ones that had broken, and with a fresh tuning
the piano sounds remarkably well and resonant in the environs of the Drawing Room.

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