Forbes House Museum


Provide building envelope, structural engineering, mechanical and electrical systems assessments in order to document the physical conditions, identify deficiencies, recommend repairs and improvements, and provide budget estimates for the anticipated work.

The 1833 mansion was designed by Boston architect Isaiah Rogers, in the Greek Revival style, and in 1871, the house was renovated and expanded to its present form with an addition, designed by Peabody & Sterns, on the west side of the structure, and porch expansions.  The third floor was raised at that time to make servants’ living quarters and the plumbing was upgraded from the original 1833 system.  Aside from later electrification, these were the last major changes made to the structure that now includes a basement, three stories above grade, an attic space/cupola, and porches on the east and west sides.  Mary Bowditch Forbes, the last family member to live permanently at the house, gave the property to her nephew in 1962, who converted the estate into a museum two years later.  The house and grounds were placed on the Nation Register of Historic Places in 1965.   The house at currently contains a collection of art and artifacts from the Forbes family, offices for administration of the museum, and a small caretaker’s apartment.  It is open to visitors on a regular basis and hosts a variety of functions. 


CBI and our consultants evaluated the Forbes House Museum building systems to determine the condition of the structure.  We found the exterior walls to be rather unique from our experience, with horizontal tongue and groove siding on wood framing, over additional wood framing supporting brick masonry likely installed as insulation.  The building is framed with a post and beam structure and another framed wall system to hold the interior plaster.  We found areas of siding and cornices in need of repair, as well as porch areas over basements with deterioration. 

The low slope roofing was evaluated and the replacement EPDM membrane was in generally good condition down to the wood decks.  The wood windows are in need of some restoration.  The mechanical systems were evaluated in relation to a house museum, used to accommodate occasional gatherings. 

In general we found the building to be in a relatively good but tired condition with a few areas in need of immediate repairs.  We listed the recommended repairs in the following categories: Life/Safety Issues; Limiting Building Deterioration – Near Term Repairs; Limiting Building Deterioration – Long Term Repairs.

The intent was to provide the Trustees monetary goals to set for safety repairs, to maintain the building in its current condition limiting further deterioration, and for repairs to bring it back to the show piece it once was.