DANVERS — The squirrels that attacked the 233-year-old Derby Summer House during the brutal winter of 2015 chewed through rotted wood, allowing water to get in and wreak havoc with the structure.
The Danvers Historical Society has spent $100,000 in the past year to repair and restore the structure, which is a National Historic Landmark.
Now, exterior restoration is ready to wind up, and should be complete within the next week.
Much of the damaged exterior woodwork has been repaired. A beam that was holding up a corner of the building, and which had rotted away, has been restored and reinforced. A new roof is made of western red cedar shingles.
A new coat of white paint and other finishing touches should give the tea house, which is in the garden of Glen Magna Farms, the pristine look it has lacked the past few years.
Some things are unfinished, including the reaper statue that used to be on the roof.
"The reaper, which is no longer on the roof, has also been attacked by the squirrels. It has holes in it. As a matter of fact, it almost fell off," said George Saluto, vice president of the Danvers Historical Society.. "But we were lucky we caught it in time."
The remains of the statue are being stored inside the tea house, and a new one will need to be made. "It is a reproduction and we are going to reproduce the reproduction," Saluto said. (The original reaper is actually stored inside the nearby Glen Magna Farms mansion.)
A companion statute, a milkmaid, which is also a replica of an original, escaped damage and will be put back up on a new plinth on the roof.
The statue, inside restorations and windows will take another $100,000 to complete.
In 2016, $50,000 for emergency repairs to stabilize the building came from the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The society had three years to match the grant from the state, which it has already done.
"I think the tea house is a beautiful treasure that goes back to the beginning of our country," said Rep. Ted Speliotis, who helped secure the funding.
Saluto said the Danvers Historical Society is starting to raise money for the second phase. An afternoon tea on July 23 served as a kickoff to the fundraising.
The goal, Saluto said, is to start the work next spring.
"That process of raising $100,000 is quite a challenge and we are looking for help," Saluto said.
The Derby Summer House, also known as the McIntire Tea House, was designed and built by famed Salem woodcarver and architect Samuel McIntire. It was designed and built for wealthy Salem merchant Elias Hasket Derby. In 1901, it was moved four miles to Glen Magna Farms in Danvers from Derby's former farm in what is now a part of Peabody. It was willed to the Danvers Historical Society in 1958.
Donations can be made through the Danvers Historical Society's website, https://www.danvershistory.org. They can also be mailed to Danvers Historical Society, Derby Summer House, P.O. Box 381, Danvers, MA 01923.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.