Timber Framed Island Pavilion

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We were pretty excited to get a call from the Norwalk Seaport Association about cutting and raising a timber framed island pavilion for them. Sheffield Island (Norwalk), Connecticut is home to a retired lighthouse that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Activated in 1868 and decommissioned in 1902, the 12-room lighthouse offers visitors a chance to see what life was like for 19th century light keepers.

In the Shop

Cutting a mortise in a timber for the island pavilion
Shop work on timber frame pavilion
Cutting timbers for island pavilion
Layout drawn on timber for pavilion

We cut and test fitted the 30' by 50' Douglas fir timber frame pavilion in our shop, as usual. The island pavilion was a straightforward frame, leaving the raising plan to be the slightly complicated portion of the job. It's not often that we have to be concerned with tides and barge schedules! Stephen, Daniel, and Joe loaded up and headed north, with fishing poles and camping gear in hand. The 45 minute ferry ride from Norwalk was a nice commute to work.

On Site

First peg going in timber frame pavilion
First bent in timber frame pavilion being raised
Raising a timber frame pavilion

Jerry Toni, the organization's Business Manager and project planner, was on hand to drive in the first peg and watch the raising. He also graciously treated the guys to some fabulous local seafood and sent oysters home for all of us. The new island pavilion will offer a welcome shady spot for picnics and gatherings.

Sheffield Island timber frame pavilion
View of timber frame during raising from lighthouse
Timber frame island pavilion

Helical piers were used for the pavilion's foundation, rather than concrete footers. Due to the sandy soil, the frost line, and the difficulty of getting material to the island, this solution was best option. A helical pier is a steel shaft with round helix plates. They are hydraulically rotated into the ground, and the posts are placed on top of each pier. Working on an island adds new dimensions to a timber frame raising!

Timber frame pavilion on Sheffield Island
Timber frame pavilion raised
Sunrise in Connecticut at timber frame raising site

The views in every direction are beautiful. The night views include the lights of Manhattan. Sheffield Island is one of over 25 islands in the Norwalk Island chain. Originally known as White Island, the 53 acre island was purchased in 1804 by Captain Sheffield for $6,000. 

Halloween prop in Sheffield Island lighthouse
T&G pavilion ceiling
Douglas fir timber frame pavilion

A Halloween prop in the lighthouse supplies a perfect spooky ambiance for a visit to the lighthouse. After we left, a crew installed the T&G ceiling and faced the post bottoms. We look forward to seeing finished pictures, as well as a return visit!