For the first time in many, many months, we can finally see the Library/EcologyLab building without any sort of scaffolding or tenting! The masonry work is now complete! A huge thank you to island mason Wayne Morris and his mason tender daughter, Andrea, for their wonderful work. Steel was replaced, cracks filled, a large area of the southeast corner rebuilt. It was much more complicated and required much more work then I just mentioned here but I have detailed much of it in previous posts. The carpenter is wrapping up some re-shingling and gutter and downspout replacement and repair. Next up, the painting of the stucco portion, the original steel windows, and the original gutters and downspouts on the building. Island painter Jim Tyler and his crew will be painting the building with a mineral paint – environmentally and stucco friendly building.
And we are currently at work on planning the interior work so stay tuned!
East side of building with new lintel on lower level.
Things are speeding along at the MMA Library – soon to be the EcologyLab!
Mason Wayne Morris and his crew (daughter Andrea) are working on replacing the steel lintels over the windows on the main floor and handling the cracking and damage to the southeast corner of the exterior. The carpenter has brought the new wood gutters to the site and applied the first coat of primer. I have ordered mineral paint samples, painted them onto the building, made the color selection, and handed in the Historic District Commission application for a paint color change – though really we are returning the stucco to its original color when it was built in the 1930s. And, the remediation crew is here to get rid of any mildew or any other contaminants in the building. The environmental engineers have made a site visit and completed their recommendations. Next, we will be designing a new HVAC system for the interior – since we will have collections in the building – and once the mason has completed his work, Jim Tyler and his painting crew will paint the stucco and the trim and windows of the Wing. The exterior work is moving along and now the interior is getting under way. We have some preliminary schematics for the interior as well with more to come – and to share – in the next few weeks so stay tuned!
Mineral paint choices based on original stucco.
The original terracotta tiles and damage that is being repaired.
Crack repair in MMA Science Library Wing basement.
Work keeps progressing. Mason Wayne Morris told me that once he started, it would move quickly and he was not wrong, that’s for sure. They have made the repairs to the interior cracks in the basement of the Wing now. These cracks are probably due to the movement of the building soon after it was constructed and then in a few places, simply shrinkage caused by time. In the photographs here, you can see where they have filled the cracks with concrete – along the walls and where the walls meet the ceiling.
In one image you will notice a “faux bois” (false wood) effect to the poured concrete wall. This is on many sections of the concrete walls in the basement. What caused it? Well, the forms they made in the 1930s to pour the foundation were wood and once dry, when they pulled the wood out, beautiful wood graining was left behind. Some people would pay a lot of money to have this and in it’s on our cellar walls!
“Faux bois” concrete.
Morris also inspected the book stack supports in the cellar of the Wing which we believe are load bearing. He did this to check for rust per the structural engineer but I am happy to report they are rust free.
Now, he is back outside getting ready to replace the steel lintels at the top of the windows on the main floor. These have not had the water penetration that the basement windows have had but there is rust and thus, some cracking of the stucco. Then, he will have to make repairs to a small section on the east side where there has been some map cracking – large pattern cracking which is due to water penetration and follows the shape of the terracotta tiles below. So, in this case, the cracks form rectangles.
If you have not been up to Vestal Street to take a look, please do! We are moving along nicely on the exterior and hope to complete the plans for the interior and begin moving forward with that work. And again, a thank you to the Community Preservation Committee for the grant that has allowed us to do all of this exterior preservation work.
Well, I am rather excited. Much of the work to the rear of the MMA Library is now completed. The chimney re-pointed, the large crack repaired, and the portion of the wall that is part of the foundation has been repaired. Today, Wayne Morris, the mason, made the large cut into the crack that runs across the north façade of the building and around the east side all the way to where the east façade meets the southern façade. Now, he will be inserting the pillow anchors and filling them with the grout. I mentioned the process in a previous post. He will not insert all of the anchors side to side but leave a space between each one that is large enough for the insertion of pillow anchors in a few days’ or a week’s time. So every other section will be blank at first. This is to make sure they set properly. Once set, he can insert the remaining anchors and fill them. He is blazing through his special wet saw blade due to the toughness and thickness of the stucco on the building. We knew this would happen based on tests – a special saw had to be purchased for this project. The photograph here shows him filling the pillow anchors – this part is easy compared to the sawing as it requires a lot of his own strength to push the saw in continually to make the cuts (exhausting and not easy).
Morris will also be pulling out the first portion of steel that sits under the windows (the lintel) – it has rusted and rotted over all these years due to water damage. He will replace the steel in portions – the entire piece cannot be removed at once or else the support of the windows will be lost. The steel was specially ordered with specific specifications, including being dipped to prevent corrosion (which the original piece had as well but that was 80 plus years ago). Morris will also place in weep holes so that if there is any water that penetrates, it will have a means of escaping so that it does not sit on the steel and rot it over time as the last piece had happen.
Stay tuned – there is more MMA Library (soon to become Ecology Lab) preservation and conservation fun to come! (Yes, this is fun – learning and fun!)
This came into my email in box a short while ago. Libraries, as we know, come in all shapes and sizes and there are some tiny ones photographed here that I would love to spend some time inside sitting and reading – the smaller and cozier the better though the mailbox one is only suitable for the Borrowers or the Tinies. Take a look:
I realized after I took this “selfie” (oh, what will they think of us in 200 years?), that my eyes were a little wild and crazed looking. Perhaps a bit of stress as I took a look at the 6 remaining shelves of bound and unbound periodicals that date back to the very late 19th century and all the way through the early 21st century! Astronomy, observatories, natural science, birds, plants. You name it, the MMA has subscribed to it or been gifted these periodicals for over 100 years. The Education interns very nicely helped me over the course of perhaps 12 hours, emptying all the outside wall shelves. Now, I have the ones in the middle. Pull from the shelves, box, label, carry up the stairs and carry into the other basement.
Why am I doing all of this? Because the conservation work on the exterior of the Library will begin soon. It is being funded – about $250,000.00 worth – by the Community Preservation Act, a grant I applied for on behalf of the MMA last fall. Happily, the Community Preservation Committee (Thank you, CPC!) funded the entire exterior conservation work and we hope to start with the roof in a few weeks. Then the mason will come and this will require cutting into the building to make the repairs thus, everything has to come out. The Special Collections have all been cleaned and moved to a climate controlled space – also funded by a grant. And now, it’s time for the periodicals or journals as we more commonly refer to them. Once moved, I will spend the winter going through them to make sure there is nothing stuck in them (ephemera) and that people have not written anything (important notes, etc.) in the margins. We will be keeping some, but there are others that will likely find a new home with other institutions. If there are articles in any of them by or about MMA or Nantucket, they will be kept. And the few that date to the nineteenth century, we will keep in the Special Collection as I believe these to be family items.
P.S. Please note that while I am wearing a Vassar t-shirt (in honor of Maria and the MMA-Vassar connections of past and present), I am a proud Mt. Holyoke graduate! I would never be forgiven if I did not note that!
This came through my email via a library association’s monthly newsletter and I thought it was really wonderful to see what people read – and all on the New York City subway. Take a look and be inspired to READ a BOOK!