The mission of Shenandoah Restorations is to preserve the historical buildings and landmarks that grace our landscape. We recognize that it is sentiment that attracts most of us to old buildings and we approach the restoration of these irreplaceable resources with respect. It is not just respect for the building and its owner that is important to us, but also respect for the successive generations of previous as well as future residents. We understand the artistry of early craftsmen and seek to recreate and preserve the same lasting quality in our work.
In addition to the admirable craftsmanship of early American builders, all old buildings have unique character resulting from their age and history. They display the marks of use and are imbued with a certain soul that has penetrated the fibers of its floorboards and doorknobs. Worn thresholds, hand-planed woodwork, wavy glass, mortised and pegged window muntins; these are all things that make an old house special. We can help preserve these irreplaceable features for future generations. Misguided and poor quality restoration or remodeling has wrought more destruction on our historic resources than has time, termites or fire. Understanding and a sound knowledge of how old buildings were designed to function is vitally important to any restoration project.
Many old rural buildings were built from the local landscape. Field stones from the garden became foundations and chimneys for warmth and nourishment, trees were transformed into walls and roofs for shelter, earth was molded into bricks, mortar and plaster. As buildings age, they become a part of this landscape and are integrated with our collective memory. They ground us, not only to the earth but to the story of time. Some historic structures fail to resist the influence of decay and return back to the land, others continue to thrive, but not without care and attention.
Historic preservation is the ultimate approach to “green building”. The preservation of existing buildings reduces the need for land, building materials, and the embodied energy that is required to manufacture them. Restoration extends the life of old buildings that were built from high quality natural materials often using water or manpower as a source of energy for its original construction. New construction is one of the most wasteful and energy intensive endeavors of our modern culture. A typical 2000 square foot home requires the energy equivalent of 16,500 gallons of gas to build and most of what is created is non-recyclable. According to EPA estimates, construction related waste comprises 40% of the total waste in our community landfills. What do we get in return but a sprawling landscape of substandard houses and impersonal developments that will ultimately be a liability to future generations? The truly sustainable building is one that was built to last. Help us preserve our unique built environment.
Shenandoah Restorations is comprised of a small team of restoration professionals committed to historic preservation and quality craftsmanship. Christopher D. Amos is originally from Alabama and has worked with the company since 2010. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design and has experience in all aspects of our work. Jeff Bartley is an experienced woodworker, timber framer, furniture maker, and is the owner of J Forrester Woodworks. Jeff has a B.S. in Geology from West Virginia University and collaborates with Shenandoah Restorations helping to manage many of our projects. Chris Mahanes is a second generation restoration carpenter from here in Shenandoah County and brings with him a useful skill set. Maia DiLorenzo started with the company in 2016 and is a very talented woodworker. She has a degree in Preservation Carpentry from the renowned North Bennet Street School in Boston, a BS in Philosophy and has run a furniture refinishing company since 2009. Her knowledge and skills are a great asset to the company. Finally, the newest member of the team is Gary Barker. He has many years of experience in all aspects of restoration and preservation, including log building and stone restoration work with the National Park Service. He is now helping with our efforts and mission to preserve historic buildings.
Shenandoah Restorations is owned and operated by Mike Watkinson. Mike studied Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and graduated from Appalachian State University with degrees in History and Building Technology. He worked building custom homes in the Blue Ridge Mountains around Boone, North Carolina until 1997 when he relocated to the Shenandoah Valley to fulfill a desire to focus his efforts exclusively on historic preservation. Mike Watkinson is a Lead Safety EPA Certified Renovator. Mike now lives in an ancestral home in Shenandoah County with his wife Kelly, his son Penn, and daughter Adella.
“It has been said that old buildings do not belong to us only; that they have belonged to our forefathers and they will belong to our descendants unless we play them false…we are only trustees for those that come after us” - William Morris