NEW YORK - It's a project that's been many years in the making and one that's been worth every minute of waiting.
“I can't believe that it's happening. It's like a dream come true,” said Westbury House Preservationist Lorraine Gilligan.
Gillian says the Georgian revival mansion was completed in 1906 for John Phipps, his wife and their four children.
“John was the eldest son of Henry Phipps who was known for his partnership with Andrew Carnegie for the creation of U.S. steel,” she said.
The 65,000 square-foot mansion sits on the grounds of Old Westbury Gardens. It was lived in by the Phipps family until 1958. Staff say 95-percent of it has been kept in its original state ever since but over the years they began noticing deterioration.
Most visible - the roof - water damage can be seen in a third floor bedroom.
Work on $6 million project that's been funded through grants and donations began over a year ago.
“This was a house listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” she said. “And good preservation, when something deteriorates, you replace the material with the same material.”
The original roof came from an English quarry that was closed for decades. It recently reopened and all 30,000 pieces of slate for the replacement roof was shipped here from the same place the Phipps family commissioned more than a century ago.
It's a sentimental job for Tom Measures, a heritage roof designer. He's one of a handful of special slaters who came to the United States from the U.K. to do the work.
“It was my great great grandfather originally who was a collyweston slater, who did the roof here,” he said. “It's quite surreal to be somewhere someone in your family worked 100 years ago.”
And the material known as Collyweston stone slate is expected to last another 100 years and give off a golden glow as it ages - a defining feature of the house back then that will continue to be the focal point in the future.
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