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…








Copper Pots

Think a copper pot is just a copper pot?  Think again…

Copper Pots - Hyde Hall Kitchen Restoration

Pictured above are two copper pots for the Hyde Hall Kitchen restoration. Nice, but what’s so special?

The restoration of the Kitchen complex requires fitting out with the tools that would have been used originally in food preparation.  These recent acquisitions illustrate details that set them apart from today’s manufactures.


Copper Pot Dovetail Seam

Did you know dovetails were used in copper pots?  You definitely wouldn’t see this in today’s cookware!


Handle Attachments - Copper Pots

Look at the handmade detail used in attaching these handles!  These pots were crafted no later than 1840, and probably earlier.


The handles also show maker’s marks and unique shaping.


There’s more to these copper pots than first meets the eye!  We can’t wait to see them in our newly restored Kitchen at Hyde Hall (Restoration in Progress – check back for updates as we go along.)



Entrance Hall Lantern

Dating to the first quarter of the nineteenth century, this fabulous Argand hall lantern was restored and finally installed in May, 2017 by machinist Joel Paradis of Westmoreland, New York. Joel fabricated the missing center fixture and patinated the frame with highlights to match as was done in the period. With the addition of this over-sized lantern, which is perfect for the generous proportions of the Entrance Hall, the mansion now boasts a variety of functioning period lighting devices that will be used for evening tours and demonstrations.

The lantern is a gift from Douglas R. Kent, who made funds available to support its purchase and full restoration. The lantern’s name is derived from Aime Argand, a Swiss-French chemist who devised a center draft burner in 1783 that represented the first major technological innovation in improved lighting since the time of the Romans. Although not original to Hyde Hall, it is an important early light fixture typical of the oversized lanterns often found in the halls of English and American mansions.

We thank Doug and all our donors who have made it possible for us to add to our collection of furnishings and working period lighting.

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