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!