I love the picture of the lift - it looks like the drive wheel is made of framed timbers and are likely to be maple or maybe even live oak
[Nerdy tech stuff: that huge log axle (right middle) served as a spool for a heavy rope (some is stapled to the bottom) - that's what lifted up EVERYTHING to the upper floors. The drive wheel is on the left (the gears in the center connect the drive wheel to the lifting spool) - chains or VERY heavy ropes would run around the outside of the wheel and go all the way to the ground floor where they harnessed REAL horsepower]
I'm glad (I hope!) they are being kept in their originally-intended form - I'd hate to see those timbers end up being resurrected as a coffee table in some @#$% stockbroker's loft
No, I think they're leaving them there. The only thing they have done is they pulled up the old floor boards, which were not in good condition, and moved them to the ceiling, which looks pretty cool. Then they replaced the floor with a (historically accurate) recycled long leaf yellow pine, or something like that. They're even keeping the old rickety stairs in place and just blocking them off with ropes. I think if they were doing anything questionable preservation-wise, that the Conservancy wouldn't have gotten involved. Yup. So it should be in good hands.