Friday, April 01, 2016

Inside and out on the museum campus

Several of us are a little preoccupied this week as work continues outside and in at the Lucas County Historical Society's John L. Lewis Building.

On the outside, Bingham Construction is at work on the great north wall residing project, funded in part by a recent $5,000 grant from the South Central Iowa Community Foundation.

We've known for a couple of years that the siding on the north side of this rambling three-part structure (the central section dates from 1976) that descends our big hill --- suitable for skiing had we a lift --- had health issues.

Last summer, volunteers working in the library heard noises in a wall near the northwest corner. Upon investigation, we found birds had pecked through a weak spot high in the wall of the Swanson Gallery wing --- and were nesting inside. So we patched that hole and another with tin, hardly a permanent solution.

Now all the old siding has been taken off, some cladding replaced and other issues dealt with and the new siding is going on. This is of much higher quality than what was installed initially and we'd like to think it will last forever, although that's unlikely. Hardly anyone who visits the museum campus ever sees this wall, but it's there and has to be maintained.

This residing projectwas high on the priority list of the late Bill Marner --- so we know he'd be pleased, too.

The good news --- the walls underneath the old siding (a fiber board type in fashion at the time the building was constructed) were in good shape.

Inside, we've begun --- gradually --- to repopulate the Lewis Gallery, the Library and the store room now that recarpeting and painting have been completed. We'll be at this throughout April and perhaps into early May. This is a project funded by a Vredenburg Foundation grant.

That beautiful walnut barrel-top Stuart desk has pride of place again in the northwest corner of the big gallery. When carpenters stop shaking the building with nail guns and other equipment, a portrait of the late Bill Stuart will be mounted over the barrister case in the background. Another portrait, of labor John L. Lewis, a Lucas County native after whom the building and gallery are named, will hang nearer to cases that contain a display related to his life and times.

Down at the foot of the big hill, the heirloom garden has been tilled and we'll be planting before long, too. So these are busy days.

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