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HISTORIC BUILDING RESTORATION & PRESERVATION - REFINISHING & REPAIR

Olek restores the finest historic and modern buildings' woodwork, for landmark brownstones and apartment buildings, Colleges, suburban residential homes, government buildings and churches, hotels and restaurants. We repair and replicate complicated woodwork and finishes, including carvings, gilt and decorative finishes, complex composition moldings, and restore them so that you would not know that they were not always well maintained, with seamless repairs and Dutchman inlays. We restore woodwork in our shop, and can install on-site in the NY, CT, NJ, and eastern PA areas.

 

former Vanderbilt residence after restoration Dakota Apartments after restoration
Former Vanderbilt residence, now home to the Japanese Ambassador to U.N
Dakota Apartments at 72nd St., Central Park West, NYC


If the wood finish is in stable condition, it may be refurbished. French Polish or wax finishes are maintainable for centuries, with periodic care. Fine sanding or cleaning followed by French Polishing or waxing may be appropriate. Twentieth century finishes, such as nitrocellulose lacquer, does not last so long. Once the finish ages, it develops hairline checking or cracks, becomes brittle, scratches easily, and won't hold up under use. Then it is time to strip the finish and start over. At this time other issues, such as gray or black discoloration from moisture can be eliminated, and the color and patina replicated. The new finish can be a special historic finish such as French Polish, or oil and wax, or varnish, many of which must be custom mixed from raw ingredients, as they are no longer available. The "spar varnish" available from major home improvement stores is not even suitable for indoor use, much less exterior marine use.

 



University Club, NYC- Restoration and refinishing



University Club, NYC during stripping damage before door restoration


During stripping
Extensive damage evident


doors and paneling before restoration doors and paneling after restoration


These doors and paneling suffered one century of heavy daily use and lack of maintenance.



Door after stripping, dutchman inlays Detail of Door after stripping, restoration


Extensive dutchman inlays, stripping the finish, re-staining and applying new varnish, corrected the deterioration.



 cornice were missing and replaced


Almost one hundred dentils in the cornice were missing and replaced.



Architectural woodwork can be restored on-site or in our shop. Sometimes the woodwork must be removed to enable remediation of asbestos, or for the replacement or installation of insulation or other utilities, such as HVAC, plumbing, or electric. For historically important buildings, the woodwork is surveyed prior to salvaging, or beginning repairs on-site. Shop Drawings are made to show precisely what repairs are necessary, detailing each element to be repaired. Our craftsmen carefully remove, mark and catalogue the old woodwork for restoration and reinstallation. Repairs are then done, replicating missing elements, rebuilding loose or damaged joinery, inserting Dutchman inlays into damages, and filling minor damages.

 





All the woodwork in Franklin Delanor Roosevelt's Library in NYC was removed, reconfigured as needed and refinished in shop, for later reinstallation, below.

 





FDR's library at 47 E. 65th St., NYC after restoration. Wood was birch, specially dyed and stained to look like walnut, and finished with a custom made copal resin varnish.

 



In addition to doing perfect Dutchman inlays in any type of wood, we replicate damaged carvings, and match any carvers' hand. Eighteenth century Rococo putti and flowers, or bunches of grapes and deep bas relief anthemion or laurel leaves, are all executed flawlessly. Extensive stocks of exotic and historically common species and cuts of veneers are drawn down to efficiently match species and graining. We don't shy away from bleaching to attain a match.

 



Hand-carved replica for woodwork Hand-carved replica for woodwork restoration during


Hand-carved replica on L., original 1905 carving on R.

 



Lathe work, restoration of locksets and hardware and even fine plumbing are routine, and won't delay your project. There have been many projects where we have been able to save historic hardware and plumbing fixtures (by our metal machinists) that restoration architects did not think was possible. We are often called to repair earlier restorations that did not meet expectations.

 



restoration of locksets and hardware




This 1875 lockset is unusually shallow, and not easily replaced. It was restored to new functionality.

 



Our European educated artists and decorative finishers with 5 year university degrees French polish, match color and the patina of new woodwork to existing. If you can tell what is new or old, or job is not satisfactory. Oil gilding, water gilding, trompe l'oeil, faux marbre and bois can be matched with infills to the existing around it. We custom mix historic finishes as necessary to replicate them. Whether we are importing copal gum from the Congo for formulating Chinese lacquer or special water-resistant French Polish varnishes, or utilizing old stocks of quartered Brazilian rosewood, we find the materials and techniques needed to attain superb results. From management to supervisiors, foremen and craftsmen, all of our people are familiar with the history of what they work on, so that your projects receive the proper treatment. The craftsmen that work on antique conservation in the shop, are the same that do our work on-site, so you benefit from intelligent, experienced craftsmen.

 



French Polishing for woodwork restoration French Polishing for woodwork restoration, detail




Milbank Chapel in Teacher's College, Columbia University, NYC- all millwork restored and refinished and new millowork blended seamlessly with the 1875 original. The bottom row of paneling in the middle photo is all new, as is the woodwork in the right side photo. Decorative finished plaster cornices were also restored and replaced.

 





Interior vestibule doors, exterior after and interior before Interior vestibule doors, interior after and interior before

Interior vestibule doors, exterior after and interior before




HUNTER COLLEGE-SARA DELANOR & FDR TOWNHOUSES


MILLWORK SCOPE: PANELING, DOORS, WINDOWS, TRIM


Mantle Repair Mantle Repair after carving and staining

Mantle Repair after initial inlay
Mantle repair after carving and staining


Dutchman Inlays into windows- after crude inlays, prior to carving profiles Dutchman Inlays - After carving of profiles

Dutchman Inlays into windows- after crude inlays, prior to carving profiles
Dutchman Inlays - After carving of profiles




Panel Wood Restaration Dutchman Inlay Panel Wood Restaration Dutchman Inlay

Dutchman Inlay, or line cut with a knife? Answer- it was an inlay to close a former sconce cutout in a solid birch pilaster, the round sconce outline is visible in the top photo.









Refinishing & Restoration Gallery



                 NJ Statehouse                                                                Investment Bank Boardroom NYC



               Grand Central Restoration                                                 Flemington Presbyterian



               Princeton University                                                           

 

Olek Lejbzon & Co.

425 Ferry St.

Newark, NJ, 07105

United States

Phone: 212-243-3363

Email: peter@olekrestoration.com