Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 'Old Main' J.W. Fiske Fountain Rehabilitation

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'Old Main' J.W. Fiske Fountain Rehabilitation

Church: Alright, so our next talk is Gabriel Harrison. Gabriel is currently a Senior Conservator

at Kreilick Conservation. Gabriel maintains his own private conservation practice consulting

outdoor sculpture conservation projects. Some of his work includes historic metals conservation

for the Winnetka Cenotaph restoration and architectural metal conservation for the Museum

of Science and History in Chicago. Gabriel began working as a conservator in 1997 with

the Chicago Parks District and since has contributed to over fifty significant sculpture conservation

projects. He holds a BSA in Sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art and

a longtime associate of the AIC. Harrison: Thanks for having me. I'm here

to talk about a J.W. Fiske fountain that we restored last year mentioned in the last talk.

It's actually kind of an extension of the last talk because she did mention about cast

iron fountains and this is a cast iron fountain from 1896. We were the conservators and the

general contractor for the project, Kreilick Conservation. We worked with the Robinson

Iron Company in Alabama. They essentially did all of the hands on work with the iron

including coming to the site, removing it from the site, and doing all the coating work

under our direction. Masonry and plumbing was addressed over there

by a company called Outer Spaces. They are actually a very modern pool maker. They do

custom pools and theyre working with very modern plumbing and filtration systems. And

then we had some analytical work done by Keystone Preservation Group in Pennsylvania and last

week we were notified that the State of Pennsylvania recognized that project as a recipient of

a construction award from the Preservation Pennsylvania so we're happy to show that.

So essentially, this is the oldest photograph that we have of the fountain. It was donated

by the Class of 1896 to the school. I think it cost $8000 back then, which is an equivalent

of $100,000 now, or something like that. So this is one of several photographs that the

university has in their library of the fountain from around that era. So this is the anecdotal

evidence or photographic evidence that we have of what it once looked like. Let's

see, so this is what it looked like in 2011 when we went to do our first assessment of

the fountain. So the most notable thing that I noticed when I saw this fountain for the

first time was, well I hadn't seen the old photograph so the first thing you would notice

is that it's completely monochrome painted but what I noticed was the color of the pool,

swimming pool blue basically, and in the black and white photo you can see it wasn't like

that. Basically these were the outstanding, from a distance sort of things, and then as we get closer

to the fountain and we looked, we find that all these intricate details of this Victorian

sort of sculpting is completely washed over by thick dripping layers and layers of paint.

It was the school's practice to maintain the sculpture by completely over painting,

every year come in and paint it off white again and again and again. So the pool was

the same way. You can see in the back there's a small section that's been cleaned off

but it's probably just peeled off because when you go in we found, we could pick up

a piece of blue paint that when you look at the side, you see the striations of various

tones of this pool blue color and also all the walls on the interior are cement and they're

all lined with these drawn in lines of clear silicone caulk and you can see that they've

been trying and trying to keep this fountain functioning even though it was proved not

to be right. So the problems that the university wanted

to repair were the leaking of water was pretty much their highest priority because they were

losing a lot of water. Typically they would just feed the water into the fountain when

they filled it up for the season and then ideally a small amount of water would be added

as the water is lost to evaporation or a little bit of sense of water function is up in the

air the wind would blow some out on a strong windy day. But they were losing a lot more

than they anticipated and they were just gushing water in from their system to the pool.

The over painting became a problem . The fountain just didnt look good. After awhile this

process of continuously over painting, even the guys who were over painting it werent

happy after they were done. And you know we have the alligator skinning paint and all

types of different stuff on there. Anyway, they wanted to find a way to not have to do

that and the iron was really starting to stain through the paint. The chlorine in the water

was helping this corrosion process so the water treatment and they actual pump system

from the water was completely outdated. Typically a tank holds a quantity of water to back up

the pump system and that tank was basically a rusted steel container that was on the verge

of completely failing itself. This is our first time seeing the masonry

structure underneath the cast iron wall. Essentially, all of the outside of the pool was lined with

cast iron wall with urns and sort of corner sections holding up the twelve sides of this

thing. So when we opened it up we discovered that it's actually a brick structure inside

the wall and you can see on the right, there are gaps in here and holes. The concrete in

the walls is not consistent so you have a lot gaps there where water is going to definitely

find its way out if that splash coat on the inside of the pool were to crack, it would

just flow right out. So here's the fountain after we removed all of the cast iron. Clearly

crumbling away, you can see in the back, just removing the cast iron from the structure,

the wall is broken back so this is obviously something that we wanted to update and modernize.

We didn't particularly want to replicate this situation because obviously the guys

who put this in in the first place had a hard time making a consistent wall, a consistent

pool inside the cast iron wall. It's a challenge to sort of do that. One thing I want to just

point out in this picture is at the very bottom of the brick wall, you have this gray stone.

These are field stones or a type of limestone native to the area in central Pennsylvania

there. Some things we wanted to replace and change which is the way they built these walls;

some things we wanted to keep the same, which is the layout of all the stonework. So all

of these stones that you can see at the very bottom were taken out and catalogued so that

we could put them back exactly where we had them, so everything that was visible from

the fountain before we got there is back where it belongs when we leave.

Another thing that's notable is the platform in the middle, the plinth where the main water

feature stands on top of, you can't see it in this picture, but the whole pool was

built and cast around this plinth. This stone wall, the plinth goes all the way down into

the ground so it interrupts the flow of the pool. The pool flow isn't consistent. It

has this sort of column through it and there's actually a hole through the metal so water

is actually going down, this is serving as a type of drain, so when the water comes and

was leaking into the cast iron feature, it was going right out and into the ground and

not into the pool as it was designed to do. So that gives you a little overview of what

we found there. Here's a great picture. In 1961, there was a campaign to restore this

fountain. Here you have a picture similar to what I just showed you from 2011 and this

is from 1961, the wall, it looks the same you know but when we look at this and we look

at the wall that we tore down and replaced, it looks as if this was a brick too so they

took it down and they put a new brick wall up. The university wasn't interested in

going through that again and making a wall that was going to fail the same way as the

old one was and since this was an interior structural part of the piece, we felt that

ethically it was a good choice to upgrade to a more modern reinforced concrete situation

so that they wouldn't experience the same kind of leaking for the same reasons.

So, what did we do? We came in like I said, we took all the stone that we wanted to retain

and replaced it back where it was, we took that stone and catalogued it, palletized it,

and took it from the site. We came in and we dug what's called turned down footing,

basically kind of like a foundation for a cement slab, which would serve as the floor

of the pool. So we came in and excavated. We didn't intend for it to be quite so deep,

well deep but not quite so wide, but the ground here, whether it had been from the water flow

was very soft and it was difficult to sort frame in a foundation so we did what we could

here and so our turned down footing is actually much more rugged than we intended, which is

actually good I suppose. That's the picture on the left.

On the picture on the right before we poured our turned down footing, we installed all

the modern plumbing. This includes basically the water that's fed to the central feature,

you can see that goes to the middle, the drains, you can see those off to the two sides. Those

are drains that come into another PVC pipe that leads out of the fountain. We have a

new skimmer which is the one that's poking up closest to me. That's a new addition

to the pool to help them maintain and clean the water so that they don't have to do

it. It just didn't have it before and it helps to keep the water clean so that people

aren't trying other techniques like adding chemicals or what have you. It will help them

to clean the pool. And then we have some other things like an access, an extra drain and

PVC conduit for a 12 volt submersible lighting. So we installed all that and of course the

rebar grid to stabilize the concrete. So here's the turned down footing being poured on the

left and on the right so it ended up being a lot of concrete. After this turned down

footing, then they reset the skirt stones, which are the ones that go around the sidewalk

area and then poured the pool floor directly inside of that.

Essentially after the floor was poured and it was poured solid, we decided with the university

that we had to make a judgment call, something between conservation of the stone portion

of this fountain and the conservation of water that they were hoping to do. So we eliminated

the column jutting through the base and into the ground and we poured the floor of the

pool completely solid so that you have a containment of the water, you don't have this drain

in the middle. On the left you see that we installed the entire cast iron wall. The wall

was actually supported by the masonry structure so we put it into place, connected the entire

wall together and then we have our rebar, on the left you can see the rebar that comes

from the floor. So essentially, we put a polyethylene sheeting to line the cast iron and then once

that was all set up, we built a wooden framework and used that to level the shelf of the cast

iron and with that we poured the concrete, we shot the concrete into this as a sort of

mold or form mold so that the wall would be continuous and instead of the brick construction,

now you have a cast concrete solid construction cast directly onto the pool floor, so you

have this seamless construction. After that was done, we basically waterproofed

the entire floor and the walls with one continuous layer of Kerabond waterproofing which is a

cementitious waterproofing material that is essentially wax coat or a thin layer of cement

that's applied to all the cement surfaces. The result from that was that the interior

of the pool looked exactly as it did when they had a brick wall with a splash coat of

cement on there as it did before but now it has a more solid construction. Also, along

with the university we chose not to paint this blue because the historic photographs

and the aesthetic of the people at the university was to keep it in more of a natural cement

color so that the water would look more like it did in the photographs, a dark sort of

reflecting pool without this. Here they are removing the forms. You can

see the skirt stones are back in place. What we did is we took the top three tiers where

the stone originally came out of the pool floor; we actually took those two tiers and

sawed the bottom layer so it sat exactly as it did from the floor originally. So visually

everything is looking just as it did but now you have this water retention of the pool

instead of losing it down that shaft. As a side thing, the top stone for the base is

actually one giant stone that when we started the process, we knew that it had to have had

cracks through the entire thing. There are different ways to address that and so our

conclusions were to place the stone back into a mortar bed as it was and address the crack

after it was placed back in because it was so big and there is actually a square hole

in the middle. It could have been addressed in many ways but we chose to do it this way

because you have this being held together in this mortar bed. So what we did is after

we installed everything and had it leveled and everything was true, we filled these cracks

with an injection mortar, Jahn M-40 injection mortar, so that we wouldn't have any cracking

from water freezing. Okay so that was the pool.

The color scheme was another one of the university's priorities. They didn't know what color

they were dealing with here but with the original photographs, they were certain that they had

this multicolor situation. Another historic photograph, it's actually a hand painted

postcard and we can see the color again. We can't use this really as reliable evidence

but it did lead us to believe that this wasn't just black and white. It looks like it has

some green or something and anyway this is the sort of evidence we had so we had to go

find more and better evidence. Here's all the iron from the fountain after it's been

disassembled. It still has the off white paint on it. Robinson Iron had this in their facility

and they tried as best they could to find any evidence of original paint but they weren't

sure that they were able to do that so I went down there with a conservator's eye and

went right into the nitty gritty you know and nitpicky and found some of these pieces.

It seemed as if the central feature had not been completely disassembled in the sixties.

So when we took off some of the smaller elements, we could see where the elements were still

stuck together kind of that there was evidence of this green and this red from something

and so we actually harvested samples from here to be analyzed. Using microscopy, this

is keystone methods of trying to discover paint colors that we wanted to use to recommend

to the university. I'm not in the analytical business, so I actually wrote these down from

what they had given me but essentially this is visual. They're showing us several layers

of paint that they found here. You can see that the colors on the left F2, is this green

color; F3, you know we're seeing these striations and they are detecting this green color but

what I wanted to say about this slide was this was very helpful when I was trying to

explain to the people at the university that their maintenance process of over painting

instead of properly cleaning and touch up painting was trapping these contaminants in

the paint layers. So what they were thinking they were doing was adding an extra layer

of protection but what they were really doing was undermining every layer of paint that

they put on there and creating more of a problem. So it helped us to convey to them that what

they want to do is proper cleaning, touching up the paint where they have problems and

less is more and they received that well. So basically what we found was that the reddish

brown color that was at the bottom most layer. We didn't find that on the rest of the fountain.

Maybe I didn't say that the entire fountain had been sandblasted. We found these colors

only in those hidden areas. So we found the red color at the bottom most, the green color

and the bright white color were the second most layers and then all the substantial layers

, all the layers after that were all this off white color and they were pretty consistent

with the off white color. They'd been painting it for sixty years or so. So we used these

colors and we offered them to the university as evidence of the original colors and when

I presented them with this, the red didn't really spark anything for them, it was the

primer so no one would have seen that anyway, but the green, they told me that, "Oh, that's

why everything in this building is that color." Because probably when they had the fountain

painted originally, this was the color. This was the color of the university and probably

when they installed the fountain originally they said, "Well we want the university

color." So anyway, we had the evidence. They took it for what it was worth and they

decided to go with that. Keystone provided us with the Muncell chip

color from their analysis. We used that to basically have a paint company mix the color

for us and I'll talk about that in a minute. So our painting process started with a zinc

rich primer. Essentially this is a paint that has 60% solids of zinc in the paint. It works

as a sacrificial lamb and basically the zinc ...okay so you have the zinc primer and then

we went with another primer and then we essentially mapped out the color for the Robinson Iron

Group. First we painted the entire thing with the Endurashield, that's a urethane topcoat

and then they did the green and here you go. That's the finished job. I actually had

a lot more to talk about but I've run out of time. Sorry about that.

Church: I think we have time for one question. Unknown: I just wondered if the perimeter

of the basin hadn't been really painted to be the same color as the stone. It looked

like that on the postcard. Harrison: Yeah, well it did look like that

on the postcard. It was a hand colored postcard. What we did was we took the stone, we pulled

it off and we used the Muncell chips. We actually had a book of Muncell chips and we brought

them there and the representatives from the university along with us, we looked at the

chips and we tried to match the color of the stone and the thing is, the stone before had

been cleaned and had a very light color. And then after the process it had been cleaned

and some of that sunbaked, let's say, lightness of the stone had gone away and had darkened.

So what will happen is those stones will lighten and match the color. That was maybe during

the process. Maybe one of the things that everybody wishes is that we had chosen a slightly

darker color for that but ultimately they were happy with it.

Unknown: And there weren't any paint remnants around the perimeter because of the rebuilding

of the wall. I mean you couldn't find any paint chips there?

Harrison: No, no, from the original? Unknown: Yeah.

Harrison: No, because they had intervened before, so everything had been blasted away.

Church: Thank you. He will be around.

The Description of 'Old Main' J.W. Fiske Fountain Rehabilitation