Wednesday, December 8, 2010

This Sunday: Holiday Open House & Volunteer Reception

The General Lew Wallace Study and Museum is hosting a free Holiday Open House and Volunteer Reception on their last operating day of 2010, Sunday, December 12 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

The Open House takes place inside the Carriage House Interpretive Center, which is beautifully outfitted in yuletide d├ęcor, including a Christmas tree decorated in Victorian fashion. Festive activities and toasty treats will be on hand, as well as a fun holiday craft project for the kids.

The Museum will also be welcoming back its volunteers for a holiday party during the Open House. “We couldn’t achieve a fraction of what we do without the work of our wonderful volunteers,” said Kara Edie, Visitor Services & Marketing Director at the General

Lew Wallace Study and Museum. “We’re inviting all of our volunteers to the Open House as a relaxing get-together before the bustle of the holidays.”

The Open House will also be the final opportunity for visitors to see the Museum’s 2010 exhibit, Sanctuary: Preserving the Legacy of Lew Wallace, which includes some of General Wallace’s personal artifacts that were removed from his Study just before the renovation on the 112-year-old building began earlier this year.

The Museum will be closed through January and reopen for tours on Wednesday, February 2, 2010.

Admission to the Museum during the Holiday Open House is free. Call 765-362-5769 or email for further information.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Heroism of William Noble Wallace (1895-1918)

This bit of Wallace family history is in honor of Veterans Day. Lew and Susan Wallace had one son, Henry. Henry and his wife, Margaret Noble Wallace, had two sons. Their eldest was named Lew Jr. and their second son was named William Noble. Both grandsons would have made their grandfather proud with their service during World War I. If Lew Wallace was a hero in the Civil War, his grandson William should also be remembered for his valiant service.

Nicknamed “Tee,” William Noble was born in 1895 and attended Indianapolis Public Schools. A handsome and dynamic young man, he had a stronger scholastic aptitude than his famous grandfather as he ultimately graduated from The Hill School, an exclusive preparatory school in Pennsylvania. He then enrolled in and graduated from Yale where he was a member Hill School Club at Yale; the University Club, the university wrestling team; the Sword & Gun Club, Delta Kappa Epsilon and the Elihu Club.

A young man with spirit and drive he left Yale without graduating in 1916 to enlist in the American Field Ambulance Service with the French Army. He did this even though the United States had not yet entered the war. Serving as an ambulance driver for six months his unit received 3 citations, including the French Croix-de-Guerre with palm and the Fourragere for Souville-Tavanne. In December of 1916, he returned to Yale and finished his senior year, graduating in June of 1917. In July, he reenlisted and was commissioned as a 2nd

lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He completed his training and in February of 1918 he sailed to France. In two different training classes, he graduated at the top of his class, again demonstrating a classroom aptitude foreign to his grandfather.

In June 1918, his command moved to Chateau Thierry and in the attack at Belleau Woods he led his platoon over the top of a hill in fighting as fierce as any Lew witnessed in the Civil War. Just a few weeks later in July, Tee took his platoon forward and was hit by piece of high explosive about noon while leading his men in the attack on Vierzy - the preliminary advance on Soissons. His regiment was cited by the French for this action and his company was awarded Croix-de-Guerre with Palm. Tee was evacuated to Base Hospital No. 43 where he recovered.

By September, he had been promoted to 1st Lieutenant but, communications at the front being what they were, he never knew it! In Memorial Sketches in Yale in the World War, it says he actually received this rank July 1 and the next day had been made a provisional Captain. In October, he rejoined his command for the Meuse-Argonne offensive and was appointed Battalion Scout Officer. His company was withdrawn for replacement, but he was retained because of his sketching ability (perhaps an artistic trait inherited from Lew) he volunteered to map enemy positions on the front line with one other comrade. His mission was accomplished with great skill and daring, and as he was returning across open country to HQ on Blanc Mont ridge in the early dawn, he was struck by a shell and instantly killed. His partner survived. That night, with the aid of the regimental chaplain, he was buried by his men and a brother officer at the side of the road between Somme-Py and St.-Etienne. World War I ended just weeks later.

For his service, Tee was posthumously given the American Field Service Medal with letter from the French Ministry of War; a trophy was awarded in his memory by his friends at a track meet held by the Second Division Post, American Legion, in New York City; he received the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism; and he was given the Navy Cross. After the War, Henry travelled to France and reclaimed his son’s body. William Noble Wallace is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery with the rest of his family.

A fellow officer said: In his last battle his company had lost 132 men in twenty minutes and was ordered to retire for replacement. But Lt. Wallace, “owing to his indifference to high explosive shell fire and skill in sketching, was ordered to remain and sketch the ground in advance. He had accomplished this special mission and was returning to deliver his map when struck by a shell. No nobler life has been laid on the altar of Liberty.”

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cherry on Top

Restoration efforts are coming along nicely here at the Study! The striking copper finial that sits on top of the Study cupola has been chemically cleaned, polished and restored to its place of honor overlooking the Museum grounds. It was unclear at first whether the original finial, which had the same green patina as the original copper roof, would be in salvageable shape, but as one can see from these photos, it's made a beautiful return to what will soon be a beautiful, shiny roof.

Meanwhile, workers have removed the copper roof from the mechanical room on the north side of the building and have begun to repair the damaged wood slats and battens underneath. This roof was in a slightly worse shape than the roof over the main room, so even though it's a smaller job, repair work may take a bit longer in this location. Thankfully, we have been blessed--still--with great weather! Keep your fingers crossed that our luck holds!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hammer Away

On a windy November day, bundled-up workers hammer the joints where the copper sheets meet the battens on the dome roof. After hammering the copper together, they will solder the joints to make them watertight. It's a very time-consuming process! Meanwhile, more workers are lying down on the job to seal the windows in the cupola in anticipation of the inclement weather we are supposed to get over the next couple of days.

Click on the post title for a video of workers hammering the copper.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Through the Roof

As a regular part of the Study Restoration Project, the architect and some grantors inspect the progress on the construction. This week's inspection includes the resetting of the glass panels in the cupola. The panels on the west side (by the tower) have been removed, cleaned, reset, and resealed to make them waterproof. They expect to be done with the south side (front of the building) today. One worker is knee deep in the dome preparing the steel framework for the glass panels to go back in.

Click on the title of this post to see a video.

Friday, October 29, 2010

No Longer Slippery When Wet

The front and back porches are getting a new traffic coating to help them shed water - preventing it from leaking into the basement of the Study - and seal and unify all the small cracks in the stone.
The gray sticky stuff was the first layer to go down, and then workers mixed in sand which gives it a pebbly appearance. There is another top layer that should make it look more like the Indiana limestone that make up the porches.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grab Your Shades

The first panel of new copper is on the roof! Workers are braving the wind to install the new roof on the east side of the building. As predicted, it's bright and shiny, so if you can make it out to see the progress, make sure you bring your sunglasses!

To see a video of the workers placing the copper, click the title to this post!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Southern Exposure

Workers removed the copper from the south side of the Study earlier this week. That leaves two sides without copper and two sides still covered. You can see the wooden decking and battens, just like what they found on the east side, before they installed the weatherproof barrier. From their investigation inside the dome, the workers report additional interior steel supports for the wood and copper that make up the roof.

They covered the wooden structure with the rain and snow shield until they get the new copper on (ETA for new copper: next week!). Today they worked near the cupola to remove sealant and other material from around the windows and the joints between the cupola and roof. Even though they're complying with safety regulations, I am glad they still steady themselves on stable parts of the building while they're up there!
Click on the post title for a video of the final stages of removing the south side copper.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Could It Be?

It’s been a week of tantalizing research leads. One of the more interesting leads walked in the door on Thursday morning. Mr. Johns from Tennessee came for a visit at the Museum and told us that during the Civil War, General Wallace was in Lavergne, Tennessee near Murphfreesboro when he was slightly injured. Mr. Johns’ great grandmother, Mary Neal King, doctored him in their home. It probably wasn’t a serious wound, but the care he received must have touched his heart. Shortly after Wallace was bandaged and left the area, Union troops came through and burned the King home to the ground, dismantled the barns, destroyed the crops and took the livestock. The family left Lavergne and moved to nearby Smyrna where they purchased the home in which Mr. Johns was born.

And now, as they say, for the rest of the story. I remembered a poem that Wallace wrote that may corroborate the Johns family story. No names are mentioned, but the parallel is intriguing.


By Lew Wallace

‘ Twas a little thing, a simple kindness,
Yet I cannot pass it by;
The blood drop from the wound you answered
With a tear-drop in your eye.

O lady dear! “Twas worth a world of thanks –
Not the thanks which wait on words,
The blund’ring syllables that too often
Fly amiss like blinded birds.

No; but those best told in ling’ring kisses;
And so I would have spoken,
But that another’s wedding seal upon
Your lips remains unbroken.

Ah! The pang of the lazy after-thought,
Laggard of the next day’s calm!
What if I had snatched your hand, and left
A kiss in the pearl-red palm;

Then clasped the fingers close the while the kiss,
Warm as fire and pure as dew,
Thrilled your heart and all its restful heaven?
Say if he had cared – would you?

Lew Wallace

(Published by Harper’s Monthly, January 1888)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Closing the Gap

The front steps of the Study got reset today after their "vacation" on the lawn. Construction workers relaid support underneath the steps - instead of the piles of loose bricks - and then moved the steps back in place. Years ago, a previous crew apparently patched a sizable gap between the brick building and the steps, so this time, in an effort to make the work more stable and less prone to water damage, the crew poured cement to make a better fit.

Workers also repaired the crack in the bottom step and poured new cement in front of the steps. They still have to seal smaller gaps between the steps themselves as well as the attachments to the building, but they look sturdier already!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wabash Men Help Museum

wabashvolunteers 011, originally uploaded by WallaceStudy.

Athlete volunteers from Wabash College move picnic tables on the grounds of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum as part of their Wabash Day community assistance activities.

Wabash Men Help Museum

wabashvolunteers 014, originally uploaded by WallaceStudy.

Athlete volunteers from Wabash College help scrape paint from the 1875 Carriage House on the grounds of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum as part of their Wabash Day community assistance activities.

Like a New Penny

Earlier this week, the construction workers put up a sample piece of the new copper that will become the dome. They wanted to make sure they had the measurements correct and that the copper would fit properly over the curvature and battens before they cut enough for the whole building (or even a whole side). It's not the green patina like the weathered gutters below - this is a glimpse of what the roof looked like when General Wallace first built the Study, and what it will look like when the Study Restoration Project is finished in the spring!

Because this was only a sample, they took the copper back to the shop and re-covered the wooden dome structure with the black weatherproof sheeting.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Town that Lew Knew

Walk in the footsteps of a literary giant with The Town that Lew Knew, a free architecture walking tour of Crawfordsville. We'll see buildings in the neighborhood and business district that were here when Wallace walked the leaf-lined avenues.
The tour starts at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, October 9, at the Carriage House Interpretive Center, and ends there with light refreshments.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Paint Analysis: Expect the Unexpected

Ratio Architects from Indianapolis began the paint analysis by revealing what is underneath the current paint layer. This prelminary test uncovered small pieces of the walls in different places in the Study: the entryway, under the benches by the fireplace, along the flowered frieze, and more.

Surprise! In the entryway of the Study, there's a geometric pattern, like blocks of color. Looking carefully at the photo, going right from the wooden door frame, the test revealed a teal rectangle outlined with black, surrounded by a taupe brown, and finally a thin red line forming another rectangle. The red and black lines seem to continue toward the corner through the splotches of bare plaster.

We thought there might be some decorative painting in the Study, but the last place we expected to find it was the entryway. As Museum Director Larry Paarlberg says, "It's very Victorian. A lot of people at that time were blocking colors on walls, although this is an unusual pattern." Even though it fit with the times, why put such attention in such a small part of the building?

To add to the mystery, the architect did not get all the way up to the dome to see if any decorative painting - such as a military scene or a gradient of color - is there. The current scaffold is not high enough, so he will have to return when a higher scaffold is in place.

In the meantime, we're left to wonder: what kind of pattern did Lew have in the entryway, and how can we best interpret it when we can take tours inside the Study again? And if he painted the entryway decoratively, what may he have done to the more dramatic dome or flowered frieze?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Good News and Bad News

The bad news about the Study Restoration Project is that two days after they removed an entire side of the roof, it poured rain for hours! We haven't had rain in weeks - maybe the best way to make sure it's wet out is to start major construction.

The good news is that the plastic seal they put over the exposed area is holding water, so though it is raining outside, it's not raining INSIDE as it has been for years. No buckets out today, hooray!

Workers have also removed the damaged plaster from an area of the domed ceiling that has absorbed moisture over the years. With the loose plaster gone, now we can see that there is more than one color of paint there. What color was the ceiling? Was it different colors at different times, a gradient of color, or - as one historic account suggests - a scene celebrating the military that Lew Wallace loved so much? Next week Ratio Architects will take over 70 samples as part of a paint analysis project that dovetails with the Study Restoration, and we hope to get some answers!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Roof Comes Off!

It's the moment we've all been waiting for: workers removed an entire side of the Study roof!

Workers went up more than 30 feet in a lift truck to cut the copper roof into manageable pieces.

Then they pried the pieces from the underlayment...

and put them in the basket of the lift truck to bring down.

Now the east side of the building looks a bit bare. Something that surprised some of the Museum staff was that the structure underneath the copper is wooden, including the battens or ridges. We thought there would be metal under the copper. The photo here shows that the wood is blackened from being in the heat for 112 years!

Click on the title of the blog post to see a video of a piece of the roof coming off.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lew's Crew Volunteer Call Out

We're looking to add volunteers to Lew's Crew!

Following in Lew's footsteps (as Adjutant General he recruited 13 companies of soldiers for the Civil War in 10 days), we're calling everyone interested.

Our biggest need is for tour guides, so if you are a people person willing to be an ambassador for Crawfordsville, we'd love to see you at the Carriage House, Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 5:30 p.m.!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Moving the Steps

To reset the front steps of the Study, workers removed caulking and sealant from around the cracks and gaps (we posted pictures last week), and then looped a harness around each step to remove them with the lift truck.

Pulling the stop step away from the building.

Completely removed!

One down, two to go.

They removed all the steps in a similar fashion. The bottom step has a large crack in it, so they moved that one is two pieces. Here they're stacked in reverse, with the cracked bottom step on top.
You can see why the steps need to be reset! The settling through the years, combined with previous work, have resulted in a hodge-podge pile of material under the steps. If you look closely, you can see the combination of bright red vitrified brick, concrete, and browner, local Poston brick making up the fill under the steps.

Click on the blog post title to see a video of the top step coming off!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Exciting Conclusion

Some of the artifacts found in the screens include pieces of bottles (round pieces in the middle), fragments of plates (bottom left corner), nails (upper right corner), and a squirrel vertebrae (top).

Anne Moore of Weintraut and Associates excavates a feature. An archaeological feature is like an artifact, but it is part of the site and cannot be removed without destroying it. This small trench was filled with gravel, a very different fill from the surrounding soil.

In another unit, students carve out the dirt around remnants of bricks from the reflecting pool wall. In more recent years, drainage pipes ran through this area, so these pieces may have broken apart while installing those pipes.

The final shot of the wall. This section is clearly made of bricks, which prompts the question: where are the stones that rimmed the edges of the pool? Someone suggested that the worker hired to fill in the pool agreed to do so in exchange for the stonework. Hmmm...

At the end of the excavation, archaeologists backfill the site with the dirt they removed. While it seems funny to cover up everything they just dug out, backfilling helps to protect what they found and fills in the holes so visitors to the grounds don't get hurt.

So, over the course of the weekend we found one wall of the reflecting pool, more evidence for a location for Old John's grave, and some surprising artifacts. We had a good turnout of community members coming to help. We also raised more questions than answers, and never did find the bottom of the pool. As sometimes happens, we were just getting to "the good stuff" when it was time to leave. Based on this first program, we are excited for another edition of History Beneath Us, and started making plans before the archaeologists left on Sunday! Stay tuned for more details.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How Low Can You Go?

The archaeologists devoted one unit to finding the bottom of the reflecting pool. A probe indicated that the bottom of the pool is about 55 cm below the bottom of the unit when this picture was taken. That's going to take a lot of digging! Because this is not an artifact-rich area, and they wanted to get through the soil quickly, they dug with shovels rather than trowels.

Every 10 cm is a new level. To know how deep they are, the students must measure from a level line. They measure at least two corners and in the center of the unit to get an accurate reading for the entire unit.

John's Grave?

Where is the grave of Old John? Local lore has it that Lew Wallace buried his favorite horse, named John, somewhere on the grounds. Last fall, surveyer Jim Swift brought out ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to investigate the southwestern corner of the grounds, where many people remember there being a marker to John decades ago. The GPR found an anomaly under the surface, meaning that there is an area that is not the same as the soil around it. Could it be a horse's grave? An outbuilding for the house on the other side of the brick wall? Just some funny dirt?

Dr. Chris Moore of University of Indianapolis brought out a bucket auger to drill into the ground and extract layers of soil to see what this anomaly is made of.

Moore sifted through the dirt in each layer, noting its composition and whether or not it contained any artifacts. A student recorded his observations so we have a record of the layers of soil.

Pay dirt! 85 cm below the surface, we hit a cultural layer containing tile (orange-colored piece), charcoal and coal (larger black pieces). Such materials were commonly used as backfill years ago when someone dug up an area and then filled it back in. The question is, why was someone digging here? Could it be John's grave?

Who's up for another History Beneath Us program focusing on this area?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Top of the Wall

Anne Moore from Weintraut & Associates cut through tree roots that have grown across the top of the reflecting pool wall.

At the end of the first day, the top of the reflecting pool wall was clean and clearly defined.

Volunteers screened each bucket of dirt for artifacts. They pulled out coal fragments, plastic, remnants of past Easter egg hunts, and many small pieces of brick.

Several surprising artifacts came to light during the day, such as this plate fragment. Could it be from Lew's kitchen in the basement of the Study?