Research Center Update

Lab sink area.

We can see more light at the end of the tunnel.  The HVAC is almost complete and the painters have been through both of the main floor rooms.  Cabinet faces have been painted and hung as well.  Basement walls are being painted and the new Delta Designs state-of-the-art collections storage cabinets are being drawn up as I write this.  The gas tank and lines have been installed.  The carpenter is moving back in to put up the walls around the furnace room and to build the accessible bathroom and basement interior entryway.  And, the cabinetmaker has completed installing all the supports for the countertops and the new microscope station.  Even grass has returned to the side yard thanks to our landscaper.

And it is also again time to thank all those who have been working with us on this project – and also patiently waiting for their role to begin or re-start!

Greg Maskell Landscaping                                      Matt Anderson, carpentry

Kevin Wiggin HVAC                                                 Jim Tyler and Crew, painting

Island Gas and Christian Yates                               Mickey Rowland, architect

Jim Badera and Badera Engineering                       Kevin O’Keefe, volunteering

Mike Freedman and Crew, cabinetmaker                Pen Austin, mason and paint coatings

Jon Vollans and Vollans Electric                               Marden Plumbing

Wayne Morris, Mason                                                Evita Caune, floor refinishing

Pioneer Cleaning, cleaning and floors                        David Ryan

Delta Designs Ltd.                                                      Toscana Corporation

Our neighbors on Vestal Street and Milk Street who have been patient with noise and people crawling all over the place!

And if I am missing anyone, I do apologize!


Microscope station.


Research Center Update

Main Room shelves

Work to the Main Room has begun as of Monday, October 17!  The cabinetmaker, Mike Freedman, and his team has come in to begin working with the existing 1920s shelving.  We will be keeping the major components, removing some of the shelves, and where absolutely necessary, making alterations so that we can fit in the large equipment needed, including a sink, chest freezer (for all those pre-processed skins), drying oven (to dry specimens), fume cabinet (for working with chemicals), refrigerator (for specimens not lunches!), and counter space.  You can see in these images some of the first steps.  In one image, you can see that underneath the shelving we revealed the original planks for the flooring of William Mitchell’s schoolhouse as the Main Room was once his school. Then in the 1920s, the MMA placed lovely pine flooring over it.  Then in the 1960s/1970s, we unfortunately put down a plywood sub-floor over the pine and then the tiles you see today.  In order to conserve money however, we are keeping the tiles (for now).  We will clean and wax them.Original Floor boards under shelves and tile and pine!

Most of the new supports have been completed in the basement and the structural engineer was on site recently and designed the final component – the doorway that we need to create between the two separate basements.  Yes, the 1830s schoolhouse has a completely separate basement from the Wing!

So, things are moving still.  Other things we are working towards – the cut between the basements, the installation of beams to “sister” along the old ones that support the first floor flooring members, and making the cuts to ready for the new HVAC install.  Stay tuned!


Science Library Update


Things are continuing to move along for the soon to be MMA Research Center formerly the Science Library. We have our demo permit from the Town but we are not really demolishing anything. We needed this permit in order to take down the circa 1992 plywood walls in the basement and the old ceiling tile system in the basement that covered the framing and joists. Now, you can see the wonderful nineteenth century framing and joist system! This is thanks to the hard work of carpenter Matt Anderson and his assistant Amos.

You may or not be familiar with the fact that the MMA’s administrative offices were once housed in the basement of the Library. When the old ca. 1950s Terrace Cottage was removed and the new Drake Cottage built, the administrative offices moved above ground, relocating to Drake.

On the back of one of the plywood boards that was removed, we found the note you see in one of the images by island carpenter, Paul Michetti, who noted the date and the weather when he installed the wall that helped to create two small office spaces in the basement of the Library. This is something that many island builders and carpenters just don’t do anymore. We did this at Mitchell House when we sistered in a small piece to the sill – noting the date and who was there. It’s a tradition – and also shows the next people to come along what was done and when and by whom. Plywood

Another thing you don’t see much at all anymore here on island is the gift to the tree gods and Mother Earth. When I was a child, once a house was framed and sheathed in plywood, the carpenters wood cut a live branch or very small tree and attach it for a time to the highest gable end of the building – acknowledging and thanking Mother Earth and the tree gods for supplying the wood that is building the house. I would assume it also acted as a blessing. Now everyone throws houses up so quickly that the time and love and respect for where that wood came from seems to be lost. I am happy to note that someone recently acknowledged the tree gods and Mother Earth at the barn-like structure that is going up on Prospect Street. I would like to see people make a return to this – expressing their gratitude.

old coal bin

Much of this plywood I mentioned above, and even the door, will be re-used for the work we are doing. This basement area will be collections storage – as it has been to some extent all these years – even with the administrative offices once sharing the space.