Hale Farm & Village is like a second home for employee Joe Tokarsky. Like most homeowners, Joe notices and addresses things most guests to the Village probably don’t see, such as windows in need of glazing, old rails, or walls needing fresh paint.
Joe is Hale Farm’s new maintenance and preservation lead, the point guy responsible for keeping all the historical buildings in good condition. He joined Hale Farm & Village in June and already has been making an impact with various maintenance projects.
And believe it or not, much of the maintenance and preservation needed at Hale Farm involves small repairs to some of the hundreds of windows located throughout the museum’s property.
“My most recent project was building a bottom rail and the interior grid for one of the large 4’ x 10’ sash windows in our Meeting House,” Joe said. “This repair was done without removing the window in order to limit the amount of possible damage to the window and its frame.”
In some buildings, Joe did have to remove window sashes and put up either plywood or Plexiglas as temporary windows. He does the repairs to the windows himself on-site.
Joe’s restoration work isn’t limited to window repair or painting. He recently called in a professional contractor to re-point the mortar joints on the Herrick House’s exterior sandstone block. Prior the Harvest Festival in October, Joe was the one Hale Farm relied on to make quick repairs on the apple cider press.
In preparing for winter, Joe and his team of three have kept busy painting, removing leaves from gutters, and sealing up any holes to prevent critters from moving into the buildings.
The challenging part of the job is not so much the work itself but doing it while guests come to visit Hale Farm & Village without any interruptions to their experience.
“It’s like a puzzle, getting (maintenance and preservation work) done with minimum interference to operations,” Joe said, noting that it can be a fun challenge, too.
Teaching historical preservation
Hale Farm & Village is obviously known for being an educational museum that teaches history by demonstration.
In keeping with that tradition, one of Joe’s goals is to bring in more college students to work on the maintenance and preservation of Hale Farm, either as an internship or a capstone project for graduation. That way, Hale Farm can benefit from fresh ideas, and the students can get experience in restoring history.
Joe himself graduated from Belmont College this past May with a degree in building preservation and restoration. Prior to that, he grew up in a family that ran a furniture repair and refinishing business and developed his woodworking skills by helping out there.
Joe is starting to pitch Hale Farm as an internship opportunity to his Alma mater and other local colleges that offer programs in building preservation. He would like to teach students not only how to repair a historical building but also how to continue to make Hale Farm a great experience for all visitors.
Another one of Joe’s goals for recruiting college students for trades-based projects “is that their work will add to the continuing historical journey and archives of Hale Farm and Village,” he said.