Campmeeting Association office stands the test of time

The Campmeeting Association office, circa 1860 & 1890.

Robert Gatchell of Oak Bluffs, a master woodworker with an artist’s eye for detail, has worked on more than 40 Campground houses over the years. He has reconstructed hundreds of the intricate wooden patterns, the gingerbread, that make so many of the classic carpenter gothic houses unique. He has a thick photo book of images of all the projects he has undertaken.

Recently, Mr. Gatchell rebuilt the deck on the Campmeeting Association office. The work included reconstructing the railings in their original style, which he reproduced from a mottled 19th-century photograph.

The three attached photographs of the office provide an illustration of changes over the years, and lack of change.

“The photo from 1890 is the one the office gave me to try and create the second floor railings that haven’t been there for as many as maybe a hundred years or so,” Mr. Gatchell said in an email to The Times. “The photo from circa 1860 shows the same railing, but take notice of what the porch roof line used to look like. The corbels were different and the trim around the porch columns was less. How time changes things. The third floor door was removed decades ago. Nobody can remember when. They asked me to put the door back. The original door was only six feet tall. It’s primary purpose, we suspect, was for ventilation and maybe to put stuff in the attic for storage. The original third floor back door is still there with the boom going through the wall for the block and tackle. Originally the third floor door, front, only had a railing in front of the door to keep people from walking out into space, but now there is a screen door there to keep birds and bugs out. Because of this I had to redesign the upper balcony.”

Mr. Gatchell added, “I must give credit to Fred Huss and his painting crew for the magic he did making it all come together.”