Making History at Highfield Hall

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Steve Nutter, owner of Steve Nutter Cabinetry and Specialty Flooring, has been in the flooring industry for 47 years. Steve works closely with his son, Ben Nutter, who started working for the family business about 15 years ago. Throughout their careers, they have done a number of restorations in floors and carpentry. The Nutters’ experience with restorations made them a perfect match for Highland Hall.

Recently, Highfield Hall & Gardens, a historic estate in Falmouth, Massachusetts, was looking to replace its floors. During their search for the right contractor for the job, Steve Nutter was recommended. Due to Department of Interior rules that needed to be followed to ensure this project stayed in line with the historic preservation of the building, the whole process has taken nearly two years.

Built by the Beebe family of Boston in 1878, Highfield Hall was one of the early summer mansions to grace Cape Cod and is one of the few remaining examples of Stick-style Queen Anne architecture in the Northeast. The hall was saved from destruction in 1994, restored, and opened as a museum and historic site in 2006.

A lot of the flooring in Highfield Hall has been replaced over the years. When Nutter and his team went in, they wanted to make sure to keep some part of the original flooring. “We decided to leave the last bit around the wall, following the border,” shares Nutter.

Nutter installed rift and quartered 2-½” white oak that was custom-milled for this job. The boards were nailed down to the subfloor. “A challenge we faced that made this job unique was the border work. There were no straight runs at all,” adds Nutter. “Everything had a border. The main ballroom had a nine-piece border, and even a smaller ballroom had a three-piece border.”

Another obstacle Nutter had to work around – fourteen 12×12 cast iron grills that were placed throughout the floor.

After the floors were sanded, they were finished with Bona AmberSeal and three coasts of Traffic Satin.

“The patterns for all of the borders made this job a lot of fun. It was pretty intricate,” adds Nutter. “Being involved in the historic restoration aspect made it very rewarding.”

One thought

  1. Cudos to Steve Nutter Cabinetry and Specialty Flooring for such amazing work. I would think all of that border work would have made them crazy but Steve said it was “a lot of fun”. Who supplied the custom milled oak flooring? Anyway I always love to see that there are still craftsmen out there and I love the fact that Steve has brought his son in to the business. The amount of true flooring craftsmen out there has really diminished, we need more young people learning the trade.

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