Transcript for Part 1

Neil Ronk, Senior Guide and Historian, The Christ Church

Neil Ronk, Senior Guide and Historian, The Christ Church

Neil: On behalf of the Preservation Trust of Christ Church and of Christ Church itself, let me welcome you here. My name is Neil Ronk and I am the senior guide/historian of the church. I’ve been here now almost 20 years on the staff of this institution. One of the nicest things I can say about what we do here is that we represent a continuity in our history. We see on average around 250,000 people a year, a lot of them, school children and one of the most interesting things about this experience, especially if you were trained academically as a historian, as I was, is to talk to 8th graders or more importantly, 5th graders. Then, you get an idea of what historic preservation is at the ground level, because your question often revolves around is this place real?

By the way, try to answer that question, is it real or is it just the way it always looked? Questions like that. The way I looked at it here is I was given a framework to talk about all the generations who have attended this church, and the community it impacted, whether they attended it or not. The fond of my job here is, I tell people nobody in here dresses in a colonial set of clothes, because we’re not recreating the past. We’re continuing to use it. One of the most common questions I’ll get on any given day is when is the last time somebody really used this as a church. I’m able to say there is never been a last time, a most recent time yes but not a last time. The fond of this place to me is I can, walking here and 20 years ago, this neighborhood as anyone who has lived in this area for any length of time, can tell you it was underutilized, where there now is a restaurant, there is an adult bookstore.

Christ Church in Philadelphia

Christ Church in Philadelphia

The issue and thing to me was, this institution by not leaving and there were plenty of times in our history where there was an option and of movement in the history of this parish to say, “Let’s move to a fashionable area. Let’s move to an area where there is fertile ground.” We didn’t, we fought off the temptation. The irony is, some of those fertile grounds are now not particularly fertile. What was fertile ground for us 100 years ago when this was deemed baron around those areas now, I suspect we wouldn’t want to move to but that’s precisely what a church ought to be doing. By the way, it’s precisely what history ought to be doing. The fond of my job and I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything in the world, which is I think one of the things that preservationist and historians know, it’s an open secret to us in a closed, secret to the rest of the world, is how much fond this is.

I looked at preservation in this building where I look at this building itself, not as a structure but as an institution and by this institution staying in this neighborhood on this site for 316 years, we are not talking about the signers of the declaration. Although we can. What we’re talking about is the longevity of communities. The permanence of change. What our previous speaker mentioned, we try to do on a daily basis and we try to make that point to kids who are yet to think in historical terms. One of the nicest things you can do to a 5th grader. By the way, most of us, unless we’re parents, we don’t talk to 5th graders and 8th graders. That’s all I do every day. Try to convince them that the love of history or the preservation of structures is meaningful and you’ll find a different way of thinking of your own career.

The fond of this is to be able to say to kids, who don’t look a thing like George Washington. That their world resonates in the contemporary. That they’re not 2 different worlds. That they resonate with each other. That’s what we try to do with our preservation here. That’s what we try what we try to do with our history here. I suspect without fully realizing that’s what you do every day but welcome to Christ Church and if there is anything we can ever answer as a question, we will love to do it. Thank you for being with us today.

Charles Cook, R.S. Cook and Associates, Inc.

Charles Cook, R.S. Cook and Associates, Inc.

Charles: It’s always fun for me and I’ve had the great pleasure of occasionally driving Nick into Philadelphia and back out again. Inevitably, it’s not about Nick, it’s about all the other people that he has worked with throughout the history of his stay in Philadelphia. Nick is going to talk to us today, he’s also going to ask Charlie Tonetti whom he just, has the highest esteem for, who has worked with Nick in several projects. Bruce Gill will be here to talk with him but Nick has a very special project here to tell us about, related to Christ Church.

Nick: Well, good morning. What we’re going to do here this morning is something I’ve never done before and I don’t think the other participants have done it either. It’s going to be kind of a tag team presentation. We have on hand, I don’t know, is Bruce here? Where is he? There he is, all right, okay. Bruce Gill and I have worked together since 1980, 1981, here at Christ Church. Bruce is a member of the Vestry. He’s the erector’s verger. He is well steeped in the knowledge of materials and we have been, as far down as we could go and as far up as we can go in this building, many, many times, I can no longer do it but he still does it. We also then have Charles Tonetti here from the National Park Service. Charlie is the Chief Historical Architect for the Independence Park and is currently the individual in charge of the extensive work being done Independence hall tower.

Nick Gianopulos, Formerly of Keast & Hood Co.

Nick Gianopulos, Formerly of Keast & Hood Co.

Now, when Charlie asked me to talked about the 2 towers, both of which I have worked on at different times, it really didn’t congeal as to how this might be done. What I have never done but I hope to, in some way do today … Yes, That was Mr. Ferrell from Natchitoches. Okay, can you hear me better now? All right. My apologies. The … having worked on both these towers, I became familiar with them individually but not comparatively. I said, “Well, why not take this program and try and draw a comparison between the 2 towers.” The tower that Robert Smith did here in the 1750s and William Strickland did in 1820s up at Independence and they are 2 totally different towers. Now, I hope to convey some of that today.

I hope you folks will enjoy what you’re going to see because you’re going to see a lot of things most people have never seen before. All right. Bruce could you come up here and give us a lift?

Christ Church 2nd & Market Street, Philadelphia, PA

Christ Church 2nd & Market Street, Philadelphia, PA

Bruce: Good morning. What I’d like to do is just give you a quick overview of the construction history of this place, including with the tower and then Nick will take over and talk about the structure of the building and what we did in it in 1980s. First this is the Strickland Painting of Christ Church about 1811 and it’s backwards. It should be turned around the other way. The building is, it was erected in the middle of the 18th century. This was the first Church of England Parish in the colony of Pennsylvania, in this hotbed of Quakerism. When the building was started and the parish was founded in the 1690s, this was considered the hot church party. King Charles the 2nd had demanded of William Penn that if several Anglican wanted the church of England Parish, that they were to have, not be denied one nor would they be molested.
Indeed they began building a building. The building that we’re in today is at least the 2nd and perhaps the 3rd building on the site. The building that we’re in very quickly started at the west end from the 2 columns in back to the west wall, was the first campaign from about 1727 until 1734. Then the eastern portions from the columns east to the great Palladian window, by 1740 or 1741 and the fitting out of the interior by 1744. It’s very much as you see it today. A steeple had been planned as early as 1727 and the foundations were laid. Nothing happened until the 1750s. Finally in 1751, 1752, the great brick towers was erected. Whether they use those 1727 foundations, we’re not quite sure.

Bruce Gill, Executive Director and Curator, Historic Harrlton House

Bruce Gill, Executive Director and Curator, Historic Harrlton House

We do know that during some recent work in the last … within the last 10 years, the installation of 9-inch water main for our sprinkler system, went in to the cellar at floor level about 9 feet below present ground level behind the steeple. It comes right in through the foundation which is 68 inches thick and it’s a stepped out foundation. We know that there is another step just below that water pipe and that there is 24 inches further down to another step. We’re well passed 10 feet, 12 feet from the ground surface with the massive foundations. Robert Smith was then asked to come along and add the great, wooden spire that Nick is going to talk about in just a few minutes. Work began in the spring of 1753 and he was paid his last payment by December in 1754. The work went very, very quickly. That’s the overview the church and I’ll now turn it back to Nick.

Nick: Years ago, one of my mentor, Charles Peterson said that when you address a group, you have to grab their attention from the very beginning and there are different ways of doing it. You can intimidate a group, you can do anything you want but I thought that it would be appropriate that if we had a tower burning, that would be a good way to start this talk. I’ll ask Bruce to take over on the history of this.

Christ Church Tower. Steeple fire caused by lightning. May 28, 1908

Christ Church Tower. Steeple fire caused by lightning. May 28, 1908

Bruce: Well, here you see the building on May 28th in 1908. The building was struck by lightning. There had been a lightning arrester on the building since the 1770s or 80s but the building was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm. It caught fire and the firemen had a great deal of trouble getting up and down inside the steeple and it was mostly the rainstorm that extinguished the fire. That did lead to, as the steeple was rebuilt and Nick will again, mention that work. The steeple was rebuilt by a member of the parish. The architect was a member of the parish, a man named Thomas Seeds. The work was completed within 6 months. They got right on it and went ahead.

However, not before the city inspectors such as they were came in and condemn the building and said that it had to be torn down. That’s the last best 3-minute we have that describes what happened until they’re terribly excited that the work is now accomplished. We really don’t know what went on between the time the city told the parish to tear the remnants of the steeple down and when it was finished, except that we have had the work.

Nick: The reconstruction was from the top of the weather vane down to the top of the cupola, at that level there. The one thing I like about this photograph is the way this guy, the grand standing here, he’d be fired today but anyways, let’s continue. Now, this … the reason for this is just to have you think about the comparative geometry of how the octagonal cross section tower was super imposed over a square base. This involved a lot of inter-cut carpentry, structural carpentry, which evolved from the very complex British medieval system of joints and so on, highly redundant. It was an eye opener to myself when I first went up there and I tussled with it for several years, hoping that we were doing the right thing.
Anyways, let’s move along, in sanity, one of the things that was unique about what was done with this scaffolding is that it could not bear on the roof here. The tower is immediately beyond the end of the church but we couldn’t bring the scaffolding down on the roof. Scaffolder rather ingeniously took the louvered openings that were there, removed the louvers and kind of levered steel beams through the louvers, picked up the scaffolding, going to the top and dropped it down to the top of the roof. There was a lot of ingenuity involved. Bruce.

Bruce: Here we are at the very top of that scaffold and right here, this is the spindle on which the ornaments are placed and we’re about to put back the great, or we’re trying to figure how we’re doing it. The cap of the steeple has been completely rebuilt and you’ll see another photograph of that in just a moment.

Nick: This is the engineer of record, doing a final inspection of the installation. Please note what is known as the white knuckle stance. When you’re up there, 230 feet on a windy day, the sense of self preservation predominates.

Bruce: This is … in the process of the work, this is a solid lead cap that weighs hundreds of pounds. The replaced one that was … turned wood and burned in the fire. The rod iron spindle, the cap and the ornaments fell off the steeple in that fire in 1908, it came crashing into the ground. The spindle and ornaments were repaired and put back but the turned wooden cap was replaced by this piece in solid lead which was slid over the great long spindle. It’s a little difficult to see but as we began to cut away the sheet metal covered wooden spire cap, we realized that all the pieces were falling out all over the place because this lead cap was simply sliding down the pole.

We had to do something in a hurry. This is called indention. I ran down to the parking lot and grab the snow chain. This is a … from my Volvo. It’s 14 inch wheel, SR7415, I think. Snow chain, I ran back up and we … it’s exactly the size of the cap, which we then cut in half and used as a model for a fiber glass cap to replace it.

Nick: When they remove the cap, we then saw the existence of a rod iron bracket at the very top of the wood framing of the spire through which the weather vane spindle projected and it was entirely a hand made piece that was really quite nice and I had wanted to save it. We had it removed, we took it down. We took it to a facility that sandblasted and cleaned it. Then, I have it, galvanized, great iron ore, it delaminated and came apart and had to be replaced. I suspect that somebody’s coffee table now, I don’t really know.

Bruce: We don’t know what happened to it. It disappeared.

Nick: I bet it is somewhere. Anyways, it became necessary to produce a new one. Which we did is we made one out of steel and you’ll note here … You probably had noted that the tops of the 8 octagonal corner pieces of the spire, the upper ends had weathered end, had some … decayed, it’s mostly splitting. It really, it was not fungal and … we reduced that. We cut it down, that much build it up with layers of Honduran mahogany, sheaved it with marine plywood and re-extended it down with hold downs, down into the body of the spire so that we really, reinforced this so that it was a good sound upper thing which was subjected to enormous wind forces in northeasters and so on. Now, as a part of this process also with Bruce, we were able to bring in a metallurgist.

A fellow by the name of Jerry List, who had been chief of testing of the Franklin Institute Laboratories when they were operational. Jerry came up and he did ultra sound scans of the weather vane spindle and described to us from the scans that the spindle had been made of quarter inch strips of rod iron, he did and then hammered blacksmith together into a solid piece. As Bruce tells me, when they had the fire, in ’08, this spindle came down, got bent, they straightened it out and put it back up and it’s still there. Anyways, we try not to throw anything away down here. Bruce.

Bruce: This is after the new base was created, the spire cap was rebuilt using Honduran mahogany. We got great chunks of mahogany. He was a friend of mine, had tried to open a bar and he bought a huge block of mahogany and then it didn’t work out and we got the mahogany as a contribution. We were able to copy those pieces that fell out from underneath the spire cap, which would be up here and crush down all of these ribs. One of which was signed by a man named Frank Rush, who was the chief carpenter during the reconstruction after the fire in 1908. Carpenter Bob Roman from JS Cornell Company, recreated this spire cap out of the mahogany and then sheaved it in mahogany planks.

Nick: This is an interior view at the very top of the spire looking at the very end and you’ll see the bracket that we provided, the spindle and some miscellaneous bracing but the interesting thing about that is as you climb the spire, it has an internal ladder and the ladder gets narrower and narrower and narrower. When you get to the top, the only way you can go from one rung to other is like tip toe like this and then when you’re up there, you can’t really hardly move around. It’s quite an experience.

Bruce: Remember all of this, and you’ll see another photograph. Just remember all of this, we’ll mention it anytime. Here it is, climbing in midst, the spindle and the braces of the brackets and the sprinkler system, the water curtain for the exterior of the steeple, you finally get up and looking out northeast, south and west are little windows about 6 to 8 inches square. Here we’re looking out through one of those little windows, ventilators at the top and we’re looking east across New Jersey.

Nick: Now, what we have here and I wish the contrast was a little greater. A photographer had come in … was he a park service photographer? Had come in and taken some 4 by 5 black and white negatives of the inter views of the upper part of the steeple and what you begin to see here is this very complex arrangement of members that Robert Smith had contrived, making those changes in the size of the cupola, I’d say the spire, the cupola, the cupola base and so on and it is … I never experienced another one in Philadelphia like it or anywhere near here but let me continue. Now, here is some other views looking from that same position slightly downward and you are seeing this base where there is a series of 8 of these brackets that make the transition and this is before we installed our new remedial framing.

Again, the same thing, more of the same and the … When you stop to think about it, this was all done without skill saws. This was the guys with hand saws and nuts and etcetera and so on. It was quite an accomplishment. This is the underside of the cupola floor. Again, simply showing the care with which the joints were made. They used these very long pins and mortise and tenons and so on. It’s the original stuff and so on. It’s the original stuff. There it is up there. It’s a pity the public can’t go up there, and made a great trip. I bet you’d be charged 10 bucks a trip.

Male: We got more than that basically.

Nick: All right. Now, unfortunately, these drawings on its side, it should have been reversed 90 degrees, what we have … this is really the cupola and the views that you were looking at were in this area, here. You begin to see that it was a maze of wood framing, quite a maze. Now, as you’ll see some other photographs, one of the real differences between this tower and Independence is that the tradition of British carpentry and tower building at the time was to develop its structure and then to sheave it with the finished materials, right in contact with the framing. In other words, here you have these framing members, octagonal, the sheeting applied directly to it. What that really does is obscures the contact phase so that when you have water driven through the joints, cracks etcetera and so on, you have then that possibility of fungal decay and it’s all blind, you can’t see it.

The only time you see it is when you have a failure of an element or so. The decision was, what can we do to stabilize the tower, when circumstances like that prevail? After a lot of head scratching, we said, “All right, let’s do something, let’s install a stale tower, an armature within this complex arrangement. Take it up to the level of the transition for the cupola down here, this is belfry here, down here are the bells. This is the top of the masonry tower, I think it’s 100 feet up to that point. We brought and installed a grillage of steel in this area with corner grillage beams so that we could not only support this but we could brace it against wind and we could also take the bells and lift them, rig them out. It was a multi-purpose kind of solution.

Now, we don’t have a photograph of this and at the moment, Bruce can describe that. The … it became very, very … I’d say, I become very cognizant of the fact that this was a totally different thing than what we had worked on at Independence. Now, this happens to be … this happens to be the plan of the framing above the bells, it’s at the top of the belfry. What we have are corner grillages, only one is drawn, the other is a diagrammatic and we raised 8 columns from these points, 8 columns that went up and did not cut one piece of the original framing. It was an intervention which quote as the secretary of interior’s standard say, it can be removed without affecting what it had protected. That is indeed the case and we have always tried to do that as an office practice.

Again, this is at the transition level below the cupola. This is above that. I’ll tell you, there is a lot of field measuring to do this. Somebody didn’t hand us a set of drawings. As a matter of fact the story is, when this is being done, around ’84, ’85, my son had just graduated from Villanova and he didn’t get a job. I said, come on in the office, we’ll do something. He had graduated in mechanical engineering and he was quite good at drafting. We put him up in the tower with a the card table, and a lamp and I roll the paper and told him to start drawing and measuring. He was up over a couple of weeks and he did … most of these drawings are his with some later enhancements. One day, I was here and they had something to be inspected, up at the top of the spire.

There is a little trap door that goes out to the side of the tower that went right on to the scaffolding and so I crawled out and I said to my son, come on along. He walked over the corner stairway that went up into the top. I notice, holding … he’s holding, gingerly holding the hand rails of the scaffolding and this is the first time he’d been out there, in fact, he’d never been out at that elevation before in his life. I said, “Tom, you’re not very comfortable are you?” He say, “No, I’m not.” I said, “Get back in there.” He went in and you know what he does, he designs and flies some helicopters now. I mean, maybe this is what he got him on his way. I don’t know. This is just a rendered plan of that transition level, showing you the complexity of what Smith had done.

How they did all this, I’ll never know. I’ll tell you an interesting story about the tower and the difference in point of view of preservation as it is practiced here … excuse me, sir and Great Britain. In 1985, I’d been invited to go to a conference at the University of Bath and actually, I went as a substitute for Lee Nelson who have had abdominal surgery and I went over and talked about the thermal waterworks up along the river. The co-chair of the whole thing was Sir Bernard Fielden who had done all the great work at York Minster, under Penning, etcetera, etcetera. At the end of the day, they had a banquet and I’m sitting with Sir Bernard whom I had met through Charlie Peterson actually, I’d taken him up into the tower a few years before.

He said, “What are you going to do with the rest of your time over here.” I said, “Well, I want to go see York Minster.” This … we were at Bath at the time. “I want to go to York and then I want to go up in … to Edinboro and find Dell Keith, find out where Robert Smith came from etcetera and so on. I really want to see some British wooden steeples and towers. He said, “We don’t have any.” I said, “How sad.” He said, “The Beetles … or the hurricanes got them so we don’t have any. They rebuilt some in brick but we don’t have any to show you like you have, because he had been here so I knew what we had here. Why are you interested in the towers?” I explained to him that we were trying to make these decisions right at that very time at Christ Church and he said “Nicholas, let me advise you.”

“When you go back to Philadelphia, ask to speak before the assembled congregation investor of the church and recommend to them that they go to that corner lot right out there, put up a huge tent and a workshop. Disassemble the tower, piece by piece. Examine it, repair it, rebuild it, replace it and reassemble it.” I said, “Sir Bernard, that’s going to take more than 2 years.” He smiled and he said, “It should.” Of course, and I met with [Dell Fadd 00:39:39] here. Here everything is fast tracked. Everything is fast tracked. Don’t get in the road, it’s fast tracked or if it’s not fast tracked as a value engineered, by people who don’t know a darn thing about what their valuing. Anyways, all right, let’s continue. Well, this was just a … it’s kind of a diagram.

We can see it very much but what we did find is we have 2 columns in the cupola the phase in this orientation that took the brunt of the northeasters. We had a lot of decay and what we did is rather than take the columns out, we piece, disassembled them in place with Dutchmen, backed them up with steel … did we skip that rotten columns.
Bruce: No, I think it’s later.

Nick: Okay, all right. Here we have a grillage. Our new grillage and … let’s say a corner grillage, over there. Then, we have this new steel grillage up above here and we tie down the tower into the corners of the masonry mass. Bruce would you explain what these 2 guys are.

Bruce: Yeah, this is Nick’s new base for the steel, new steel grillage. Here are 2 earlier tie downs. This one with the rod iron T, comes down to 2 great blocks in the wall and there were 4 of those that tie down the wooden spire on to the masonry. The ones in the corners we think are earlier, as I said, this whole building project, through this building was done over period of years and in a series of campaigns. The masonry, the rubble masonry tower with the brick phase was built first and then, we then cap. These are fakes, they do nothing today. We think that they may have been the tie downs for perhaps a heap roof until the money could be raised for Robert Smith or whoever to … turned out to be Robert Smith to build the wooden spire on top of the masonry tower.

Nick: What we have here are one of the columns, you can see the really destructive decay of the column. They were oaked and again, this issue that we tussled with is, if we had to really replace them, we would almost have to disassemble the whole thing and come down. Rather than doing that, we backed them up with steel and rebuilt them. Once the steel was installed, then these were cut out and rebuild in place with heavy planking screwed together, bolted together. We … it’s kind of a jury built solution but I think that it’s been through some serious storms. I want to tell you, every time there is a major storm, I turn on KYW and listen to say, if there is any news about old city, old city.

Bruce: This is also right at the top of the lantern or the arches that you see in the wooden spire and right here is the interface between the 18th Century Work and the Robert Smith’s 18th Century, timber framing and the rebuilding after the fire in 1908. These steel clip angles and then there is an iron grid at the base of the spire that ties the 2 together.

Nick: There was … down in the tower itself, we did come across a column that was pretty badly decayed and so we had to cut it out, this is a temporary bracing. We had already installed the steel below so we were able to brace down on to that steel work and take advantage of it, that permitted us to do the shoring of the tower above. This is showing the stuff being installed. Bruce.

Bruce: The … you saw the 2 tie downs, 18th Century tie downs in the earlier slide. Here we’re in the upper octagon section, just below the cupola or lantern. These are Nick’s tie downs there are 8 columns and there are 2 of these tie downs per column that tie down that upper octagon that goes through into the lower octagon and then grabs the structural steel below. It’s not only holding the building up, would there be a failure but it’s also tying it down onto the masonry. In addition to the structural work inside, we have the opportunities since we have the scaffolding up to do a proper paint job and do some conservation on decorative elements on the steeple.

This is one of the consoles with the faces that were carved by Samuel Harding, a Philadelphia Carver named Samuel Harding in 1754, he charged 12 pounds for 8 of these phases in consoles which stare out northeast, south and west and so a friend of mine, Peter Klosowitz who came in and we cleaned between a quarter and three eighths of an inch of paint from all of the consoles. This is one block, they’ll be a better photograph in just a minute, one block that runs up. The only separate piece is just the fakes which is nailed on and then carved. You can barely see the great check here, once Peter had them cleaned, I was able to cut this out and install a Dutchman re-carved, the missing parts.

Here, Nick, this is photographed, as the scaffolding is coming down, this is one of the completed consoles, it’s a single block of wood. They’re a little longer than 4 feet from here to this upper torus molding. As I said, the face is the only added block to the entire piece. From the side, and here you can just see the line where the face has been attached to the block. We re-carved several of these and then we also cast some in bell stone, something called bell stone which is what Dennis used. We froze it, we fried it, we put it in a microwave and it seem to survived so we went ahead and used them. As painters came along over the years, they would scrape away and in several cases, only the little rose head nail was left.
We pulled the rose head nail, applied the re-carved, the rows at … where the cast rows at using the same nails. We also, in addition to just the steeple work, did other work on the buildings. We worked on the, Wheeler gates out front, which were blacksmith Samuel Wheeler, who had worked on this building, beginning in 1771. When Robert Smith was called back, this is within 20 years, and I had to make some major improvements to his framing and to the steeple because of the water leakage. Wheeler did all of the iron work for that work. He constructed the wonderful gates, that face on 2nd Street. We went around and did other things in the building as well. In fact, the clear glass windows were part of the project.

There had been stained glass installed in the early 20th Century. They were removed to be cleaned and repaired and there was so much light and air that came in the building and the decision was made not to put them back. I hope that you’ll take the opportunity to walk across the street, use the men’s and ladies room, nothing else and take a look at one of the great stained glass windows that’s been put in our newly renovated neighborhood houses, right across, the way. One of the other things that we did is this great plaque of George the 2nd, hangs just above this Palladian window, it faces out on 2nd Street. We took it down, it also was covered with up to three eighths of an inch of paint.

We took it down and I had to re-carved some pieces that were missing but it had been cleaned and we had a paint analysis done as part of this project on the building and Frank Welch told us that this was originally painted in red iron oxide. We found out … found some red iron oxide and repainted it and just as we were about to put it back on the building, the erector said, “You can’t see it, it’s the same color as the brick” so it’s now been painted, painted ivory.

Nick: Again, you see here, this Octagonal shaped tower, sheaved in contact with the framing and it was configured by Robert Smith in a very, very complex geometric way and when we compare it to Strickland’s tower, it’s the difference of night and day and I hope I can convey the difference to you. Here is a cross section of Independence tower, that was prepared in our office to illustrate the different phases of construction by decoloration here. What we have here is the dark brown, lower portion or the remnants of the original 1750s framing for the lower tower. When the tower came off, this remained and it still exist in the upper part of the masonry portion. It supports the clock room in different things.
Then, Strickland came in and installed 4 heavy cast iron brackets in the corners of the brick tower. Then, erected 4 columns which converge towards the top and what he did was to take the wood finish and rather applying it directly to the structural members, the columns, he spaced it outboard that was almost like a wedding cake. You had the center construction and then you had this wrapping around of the boxes. Now, my assumption is, I’ve never read anything on this nor do I know whether it exist. My assumption was that he did this because he realized … first of all, let me say Strickland were a pretty ingenious fellow. He wasn’t as technically advanced in his education as Latrobe. He had worked for Latrobe and I think he absorbed a lot from Latrobe.

Strickland was highly intuitive, this is my take on the man and his work. What he did is he put the enclosure of architectural finishes so that they could be … how would you say it, replaceable, sacrificial, as they were out from … the effects of weather that the water would be kept away from the principal framing which were the 4 major columns. Now, whereas, Robert Smith here, this complex geometry to stiffen this tower against torsion and so on, Strickland simply installed floors at different levels. The floors acted as diaphragms from the corner columns. That provided the rigidity against torsion. It’s the way you build a house. Nothing mysterious about it.

Later … and one thing that Strickland did is he made use of knee braces, little crooks cut out of the branches of oak trees and … for instance they make a lot of use of the oak from the south, that does this and they apparently on the last storm, a lot of these trees went down. The branches we’re all bought by Mystic Seaport, because they could use them in a long term reproduction or the reinforcement of the ships up in Mystic. In 1876, the Centennial, they were going to erect a bell which weighed 13,000 pounds which was still up there. They then braced the tower with the V bracing and the X bracing to stiffen it, which all yet exist there. Now, you can see that the whole approach between these 2 tower makers was different.
Yet, they produce towers which have existed for … this is over 200 years here and Independence hall is, I guess is darn near that close too. We’ve been very fortunate in the city, actually this tower, Christ Church tower which was the tallest thing in the area was frequently used by the navigators coming up to Delaware Bay to site in where Philadelphia was up stream. They predominated the sky line, until city hall tower came in the late 1800s.

Transcript for Part 2

Speaker 1: I’d like to thank you for coming here, what I have is [inaudible 00:00:45] view. This is actually looking from what’s now Camden looking across Philadelphia and you can see Christ Church and what we are going to do now is move to the soft Independence Hall. The other great thing about this is you can really see the prominence that these towers played in the skyline of Philadelphia.

I always like to show a picture of Independence Hall when I’m talking about it but I also want to reinforce that the Chestnut Street elevation is the front of the building. A lot of times we forget this in historic buildings. So I always want to start with the front of the building and this photograph is from before … in the 1880s, 1890s before the Robert Mills business wings were taken down.

The other thing I have to say is most of what I know about the tower is due to Nick Giannopoulos and just the multiple times that we went up and taking tours, looking at things. One of the first things he always said is when they started working on restoring Independence Hall they weren’t going to Whitehouse, Independence Hall or the tower. I just wanted to give you an idea of what that really meant.

This is a picture of the inside of the Whitehouse during the restoration of the Truman administration. It’s not quite the secretary of the interior standards about reversibility. The earliest known drawings that we have of independence Hall is this one, but in John Dickson’s papers and is attributed to Andrew Hamilton and if you grew up in the attic there is the layering of structure which I think is important and right in here you can see the opening for the copular that was originally upon the roof.

The other thing, one of the last projects Penny Batcheler did was to try and figure out what Independence Hall looked like before tower was added. The tower was actually a building addition and what she did was use photographs, also looking at Roy who built the tower at previous buildings to try and figure out what Independence Hall’s south elevation might have looked like, through a whole series of sketches and studies, her final sort of conjectural study of what it might have appeared like. Then we move to the good stuff which is the tower that was commissioned and started being built in 1750 through 1754. Unfortunately one the thing is tower is a very fragile.

They are up the weather, the elements and here is some other graphic images of it and what happens is by 1790s, the tower’s in such bad condition the wood portion that it actually has to be taken down. But recently when we removed the windows at the 3rd level of the tower which is here what we actually found and it doesn’t come across too well but the actual holes where they pegged in the louvers that they put up in those window openings when they moved the bell down.

They put in the louvers to actually help the sound from the ringing of the bell come out. And then by 1828 there is a … Philadelphia is again very much interested in Independence Hall and they have, they hire William Strickland to commend and build a new wood steeple on the existing brick base. What I did was I actually took Keast & Hood’s conjectural reconstruction of the original tower and you can see it’s a series of boxes stacked on top of one another, it has a lot of joints, very fragile and as Nick said that the skin is applied directly to the structural numbers.

When Strickland comes in, he creates these two super structures that go up. You can see it’s very stable, it’s very much simpler and then the dash line actually shows how the exterior cladding is held away from the interior structure. The other thing is Strickland is very much of a different age, it’s an age of innovation and he starts doing all sorts of things that are different. One of the major things he does is he changes the construction technique. As you can see down below in the lower portion, this is the 1750s tower. It’s all mortise and tenon construction. This is very expensive, time consuming and Strickland comes in for cost savings and also innovations.

All his joints are all bolted connections. So the whole tower when you get to all of the major structural framing members are all bolt. You can sort of see how the knee braces, everything’s bolted together. It’s much easier to do, you can lift everything up into place, bolted. It’s much similar to a steel building. You can also see how the framing, the structural framing with the knee braces is back pulled in away from the outer skin of the wall. This is an axonometric, just showing of where we are really going to focus which is Strickland’s levels of 4, 5 and 6. There are both a lot of innovative things going on and some things that are actually cause problems when we came to actually do the restoration of the tower.

One of the things that he didn’t, we didn’t know when we started doing the work actually what purpose the iron rods which are here embedded in the center of the cladding, each cladding piece is two and three quarter inches thick and it’s eastern white pine old groove the overlap. And we didn’t know if this was a prefabrication technique whether we put panels together then lift them in the air or if these rods somehow was something for sheer. So one of the things we did … the other thing that was really great is he built in sort of a natural drainage system which was what these double joints that that the cladding actually drains itself.

So run up there in the middle of a rain storm with the moisture meter poking around that give very high readings, the next day and the day after I go back and so what actually happens is when it rains, that this joint here, it actually drains out. The only problem we found is that previously they had gone to thinking whether [inaudible 00:08:29] could actually caused and had actually installed ceiling. We came back during the work and found those areas where they had installed ceilings was actually where we getting rock.

In sort of wondering where this idea came from for embedding the iron rods we started looking at what Strickland had previous experience and in 1824 he was sent to England to look at canal building and we think this may have influenced his building of the tower that he took some of the details that he saw in canal building and actually translated them into the building of the tower. This is an example of his patent for a lock. This is an actual [aqua-dock 00:09:24] that’s on the Chesapeake Ohio canal and here again you can actually see iron rods that are embedded in the wood to hold things together.

The other thing I did was I dragged my mother on one vacation up to Chittenango Canal Boat Museum that’s along the Erie canal and what they had there are canal boats and canal boats are basically wood boxes, they have, what they would do is in the winter, they would mill the wood in the, and do iron bars and bolts, the nails, that sort of thing. You can actually see, we have a very similar profile with the doubled siding on the outside. We have the knee braces and actually sank in the Erie canal you can see where the iron rods are coming out of the wood.

This is a late 19th century canal boat, what I’m trying to do is find examples now that maybe go earlier into the 19th century. The one corner picture is actually of Independence Hall and you can see the similarity of construction. One thing we did is we tried to figure out with the water moving in and out of the wood cladding, what was happening to those iron rods. So we got up there, we did basically x-rays of the cladding and various spots and what we found was, where we didn’t have water, the iron rods were pretty much intact but then when you come up to a joint where you get water infiltration what you start to see is the [deframation 00:11:06].

And here iron is, the rust is actually bleeding into the wood. What that causes, is caused iron sickness and iron sickness is a term that comes out of railroad construction, actually causes the wood fibers to break apart and will lead to the failure of the wood. This x-ray here is actually in that very location. What we did was we decided to actually start taking the tower apart and we removed everything. What I have is before shots that you actually see we took all the [wooden wreaths 00:11:49], laid them out on the table, inspected each piece of wood. There’s what the condition of the wreath was after it stripped and here on this side is actually the wreath being reinstalled. You have a [polyester capital 00:12:04] on one side prior to restoration, after reinstallation and reinstalled.

Down on the 18 century tower, actually when we got to the wood capitals, we found out that they probably cut corners because rather than using a single block of wood what they did was in the shop, they took pieces of wood, varying sizes and glued them all together and then carved the capital. What happened is when we started stripping it, the wood glue came apart, all of the capitals completely fell apart. We had to take them into the shop, re-glue them, reinstall them.

The first thing we did to make sure about installing the cladding properly was did shop drawings each piece of cladding is, was measured, numbered, you can see the rods were all located. This is both for level six, level five … initially went through and just did an eye survey to see if there was actually cladding that we could save. The grayer the numbers that we thought we couldn’t save because of the bowing out and the expansion due to, and falling apart of the wood fibers due to the iron sickness.

We then each took each elevation put it down on the ground and surveyed each board and what we … actually this is an example of the iron sickness where you can see that the wood fibers have actually become like hair coming apart … but then what we discovered was in the base and in the tops, we actually got iron jacking. This long crack there is actually from the expansion of rust and split the boards apart. At one point just to did a, got a sample of the cladding but what we actually uncovered was this is a typical iron rod, you can see how it’s great and when it gets to this it actually has lost its entire thickness.

This is probably the most spectacular photograph I have taken because this is, you are now seeing what it was only seen before in 1828 where the cladding is completely off, the structure is completely exposed and as Nick said, we sacrificed the outer skin but the structure is actually completely intact. There are some areas where we had to reinforce with some new structure here and there. You can see some 60 structure if it were clear that was in to address some problems but this is really great.

Actually when I pointed it out to the carpenters, all of a sudden a myriad of cell phones came out and they started recording it. I put this in because one of the things that we are actually insisting on doing was duplicating the construction. We actually went out and got old growth eastern white pines specified the number of rings and then duplicated the construction where we over lock the rods instead of putting them into iron to relive the problem, we used stainless steel put in the bolts. At the corners we duplicated the construction here whether it was beveled or butted and then one thing we did do at various locations was install new lead coated flash in to help drainage of water.

Finally down in this corner began working with flashing and how to reinstall the wood [wreaths 00:16:03]. The other I thought, in all of the pictures it’s good to actually see, master builders, and these are all carpenters that are working on the scaffolding installing the new cladding. We even have one carpenter down here, carpenters’ apprentice who is not only getting trained on the site but here is actually coming and tightening down one of the screws. We plain down the wood, sanded it and prepped it for painting.

Finally this is the stage we are at now. We are almost complete. The recent stalled all of the decorative members that had been conserved to reinstalled. Finally we are pretty much on date; we may be done a little bit sooner than we thought. I think scaffolding may come down, cross my heart, in the end of November, that’s what I hope. I think we have substantial completion maybe around the 20th or something of November. Finally I always like to end with this which is this ad that I found which I think really sort of typifies Philadelphia and what’s going on in the city. Was that too quick?

Speaker 2: That’s fine. Thanks Nick and Nick will join us towards the end of this discussion of Franklin Court We have called this the evolution of Franklin Court but in a way it’s a great case study in the shifting with the evolution of attitudes towards both preservation and interpretation and in the case of Franklin Court also commemoration. Franklin Court as it exists today in 1950 looked like this.

This was Orianna Street looking north. Obviously the area had evolved significantly since Franklin’s time had become part of the industrial, commercial old city but largely exists today. This is Market Street as we know it today. This was Market Street as it was in 1950 just before work … this was actually just before park service gained control of the site in 1948. This is would be discussion of how land from here to there. This is a wonderful print drawing done but Frank Taylor done in 1915.

Again this is a view from Orianna Street looking north. In 1812 Franklin had sold his property and actually his heirs divided the court into thirty house slots filling the court and Orianna Street was created. There is a lot known about Franklin Court primarily through deeds and the wonderful insurance surveys that exist and lots of correspondence. Much was known about the house and they knew where it was and as the sesquicentennial approached in 1940 there was kind of a renewed interest in this idea of commemorating Franklin and also restoring the house.

As Dr Richard Shylock who is a librarian at the American Philosophical Society said at the time, “Franklin is a man we cannot live to the imagination.” That was a great quote. Back to 1950, in 1948 the congressional subcommittee hearings were taking place to basically do, establish the park in Philadelphia, was broken into segments and there was a particularly kind of interesting dialogue at the congressional hearings regarding the purchase of this particular piece of the park. I want to quote a little bit from this, representative Scott says, “I think that is one site, is it not? Where there is a possibility of reconstruction because they have not only the old law but they have enough details of Franklin’s home to reconstruct.”

Mr. Rockwell says, “What would be the cost of that to the building an reconstruction, no one is more of an admirer of Franklin that I but I wonder if there was not some place to add value other than just a [latched 00:21:33] twenty by thirty and a wall that is more or less fallen down.” A little further in the discussions Mr. Scott says, “With the historical [mollage 00:21:46] that is in the hand is Philadelphia historical society, I feel that if this area in project C, it could be put into great proper use in giving the people of a country an opportunity to see the environment in which Ben Franklin lived in his own immediate personal life.”

Another representative, “There is one further consideration that weighed heavily on us, the fact that there is no national memorial or shrine to Benjamin Franklin in the national park system and there are to most in some way a great historical figure have been commemorated but Franklin has not been.” So you see this complex idea of memorial, of reconstruction, what should we do. Again Mr. Rockwell not to be denied, “He is certainly one of our great Americans and did a great deal, still a vacant loft full of weeds, 20 feet square to spend half a million dollars, it seems there might be some better monument we could get.”

He was in some ways but …. But then again Mr. Barrat, I think in the end the chairman says, “The importance too of this little house, if you read the dimensions, it was not a fabulous place at all, but a little house which eventually found necessary to expand but in any event it looks to me like it is a historical and one which if we cannot restore it, at least it should be preserved properly,” whatever that means, “It seems to me that is properly included and I would like to move Mr. Chairman that we include project C.”

Shortly thereafter began a series of archeological excavations to determine really what exists and what might be found to help in this restoration or recreation or commemoration. In 1953 and 1955 the National Park Service archeologist Paul Shoemaker was able to undertake very limited excavations; he was not allowed to dig in Orianna Street. He was able to dig in the side walk on some of these empty lots and the basements that existed. His excavations concluded that there was no rising wall of Franklin’s house.

In fact the basements on both sides of houses built by Franklin’s heir had gone deeper than Franklin’s house and had obliterated basically all of the remains. However he did find under the sidewalk and east wall foundation. Shortly after it, in 19 … in 1958, actually the parts where this was able to demolish the house and in 1961 excavations under the guidance of Bruce Powell, the archaeologists located additional foundations describing the east , north and south walls privies and other appurtenance to Franklin’s court.

He was also able to excavate under the, in the basement of some of the Market Street houses and found again some evidence that there were remains of the earlier structures along the market. Those excavations became part of historic structures report that was published in 1961, Dennis [Carjack 00:26:23] was the acting park’s superintendent at that time and issued this report.

The archaeological discovery report seemed to land great optimism to the possibility, at actually reconstructing Franklin’s house and from his report, I’ll read this to you, “A great deal is already known about the physical, history of the house and there is every expectation that further research will provide us with the near complete knowledge of the structure. A wealth of archeological data and artifacts including foundations of the east, north and south walls, and east west portions which divided the basement into sections remains of a circular ice house, the necessary and Franklins building materials would permit reconstruction of the house on the exact site of the original and high degree of accuracy in the use of construction material.”

What did they really know, they had some of the foundations uncovered. This was the only [extant 00:27:35] drawing known of the plan of the house and this is believed to have been done by Ben Franklin on the backside of a document at the American Philosophical Society and you can see the houses, this is actually at the north side, a stairwell, a large dining room, two parlors and a large central hallway. These are considered to be windows, doors, chimney, chimney, table and I guess based on a lot of the description of the house … historians were able to clean a lot from this little sketch.

But from this sketch as [get in 00:28:17] the … historic structures report, this, again I’m glad [inaudible 00:28:24], this is the staircase as it could be reconstructed from the information that we know. This was a very simpler time. This is a preliminary estimate of cost, 590,200 dollars and I wonder where the 200 dollars came from. After that report, the site stayed [inaudible 00:28:57] for some time and beginning 1970 to 1973 Barbara Leggett undertook additional excavations on this site. You can see some of the coverings over the earlier work that had been done.

Barbara Leggett excavations brought out a lot more detail about the time of Franklin, all of the materials that were found in the privies, but really did not uncover much of real significance in terms of the what Franklin’s house looked like. I think a garden wall was uncovered, a lot of information was gleened about the Market Street houses including definite locations of foundations walls and party walls continue to exist. In 1970 what had been discovered.

Essentially this is, to the left here is Franklin’s house and to the north are the market street houses. You can see in dark, these are the fragments of foundations that were found and you can see they are neatly correspond to Orianna’s Street was. Most of the information was found survived only because it was under the street not disturbed by basements. You can see bits of the garden wall that were found here, that whole series of test pits and many privies and other kind of storage devices. The excavation material along with descriptions enabled this sort of sketchy reconstruction of the site. These came from Barbara Leggett’s report.

Ben Franklin began assembling his property in the 1730s to build his house. His house began in 1763 with Robert Smith as carpenter and Samuel Rhodes as supervisor. It’s unclear, both of those were architects as well as builders. It’s unclear who actually designed the house but both were involved. The house was completed in 1756, three years in the making much to the dissatisfaction of Franklin and between the 1763 and 1780s Franklin acquired properties along, several properties along Market Street.

You can see originally when the house was built he actually had a drive that came in to the west and entered the court, to the North he acquired three houses that existed on Market Street and he never gained ownership of these two abutting properties. In 1886 the [inaudible 00:32:22] was built, a library was added to his house and he demolished the three houses on Market Street and built the house that are reconstructed today and created the covered passage that currently is now there that enters the courtyard. He then built a third house on the previous side of his driveway.

After all of this, the bicentennial was approaching and still this question remained, what did Franklin’s house look like? This is from early 1972 I believe, they were desperate to find more information about what the house looked like. We are going to make a worldwide search for anyone having a watercolor or anything else which will help show us what the house looked like. For the loan of such picture the commission will paid an all expense paid trip to Philadelphia, a visit to Franklin court and especially designed in Franklin medal. I guess that was not incentive enough to produce any more information. The only real impact that seemed to exist was this advertisement from 1797 for the rental for the Franklins House.

In the meantime there were continued, for the process of thinking of how do we, what can we do, we don’t have much, we have no real substantial information about what the house looked like. We know what its footprint was, we know a little more about the Market Street houses. All the way back in the 50s actually this is after the preliminary excavations, it is hard to see but this is a wonder Grant Simon’s idea about Franklin might be memorialized. It is essentially the garden with just the walls of the house brought up to probably about waist height and a little museum, tacked in the niche here; he did about three or four of these schemes.

In the late 1960s, Penny Batcheler who was a park historical architect at the time came up with her notion of what might, how this, this site might be interpreted and not reconstructed. And you see she was a student of [mise 00:35:16] and she has proposed a sort of museum box, it sits over the remains, very transparent and it allows you to actually see in. And again the program was getting larger in the museum and I started having, the museum was accompanied by a lecture hall and the program was obviously growing.

This is another actually wonderful sketch by Penny Batcheler shows the Market Street houses realized in Core Ten steel. Obviously people park services and others were really struggling with how do we interpret this? We can’t reconstruct we don’t have enough information. In fact here even they were thinking about not reconstructing the Market Street houses. This is another Penny Bachelor sketch, believe it or not I have to read this it says, ‘Market Street facades by Cathode tube, [inaudible 00:36:25], this is from the 60s.

Well in March of 1972, Venturi & Rauch was commissioned to by the park services and then superintendent Hovey K. Wood to design, figure out how this state should be developed given the information that was known. The program had grown, the [Bison Town Hall 00:37:06] was rapidly approaching and it was clear by this time that there was a big focus shift in attitudes towards preservations and we had moved fully away from the idea of restoring or recreating something that we knew a good bit about but really not quite enough about to reconstruct.

The shift was really towards more of an educational interpretive approach. One that celebrated the process that we heard about earlier of the discovery; the archeological work, the years and years of thinking about how, not only what was there but how should it be shown was an important story to tell in its own right. The idea for the ghost house came really early apparently and it wasn’t a-ha moment, Bob just says it came but it came really out of the process of the quandary or thinking about what would be appropriate given what we know and even the need not just to interpret the site and understand the site but to commemorate Franklin as well. And so that is an important dimension to remember.

This is a little bit hard to see but here we are standing down on one of the excavations holes holding an early model and that is Bob Venturi right there with the model. Things were moving really fast at this moment, there were still explorations going to figure out specifically about what the Market Street houses looked like or even what their volumes were. In this model this is shrimps one, this is less shrimpy, these are the three that are owned by Franklin.

You can see the print shop as much as more to the north than it ended up and I’m still not quite sure what this ghost structure was there. This is still an early model but work was still ongoing, research was still ongoing. And then I should mention then that the team that was assembled for this project included Venture & Rauch at that time, Nick Giannopoulos and also John Milner associate. And the decision was made that obviously not enough was known about Franklin’s house, the iconic ghost structure was sort of rapidly accepted as an appropriate response.

But more was known about these houses and the decision was made to actually deconstruct the exterior of those but not the interiors. And John Milner was the architect responsible for really uncovering and exploring what was known in terms of physical evidence for the Market Street houses. Franklin Court as it exists today; the houses on Market Street with they were restored facades here but I think the interior you can see, Nick will take a bit about this but there is what I call the internal ghost structures, Nick’s steel structure that was required to stabilize those buildings.

The park as it developed and I think it’s important to remember that this was seen as not only as a memorial to Franklin but also as part of an urban system of green ways and green spaces. And also the need to marshal lots of visitors to who would then proceed down ramps to the museum. As you all know the museum is down underground now. The firm actually was not responsible for designing the museum exhibits proper.

And then the idea for the remainder of the site was to develop it as an educations tool, not to recreate elements but to put elements in there that were over scaled, that were abstracted in a way, abstract elements of what might have existed in the 18th century. The museum down below here you can see the remnants of Franklins house were preserved in that area and visible from scopes that you see today and connection through was underground enable mechanical systems to extend into the Market Street houses.

The ghost structure on its way and the ghost structure under construction and Franklin court as we know it today with elements that were designed not as replications of anything but simply as somewhat abstract bigger scaled interpretations of 18th century elements. And then you can see that in the benches and the arbor obviously not from the 18th century indicative of purpose and intent.

Meanwhile back on Market Street, this was, actually here you can see the passage way, this is what existed in 1950 when park service took control of the site; again part of the industrial commercial development of Old City. In 1964, The buildings were actually condemned and actually a good portion were taken down and as Nick describes it when he looked at, when he first saw the site it was a feed and plywood. And with that I will pass it on to Nick to talk about what was done inside the market street houses.

Speaker 3: We are going to finish up with the Home Depot approach to fixing old buildings, reconstructing them. But I had the good fortune of being brought in a few years earlier before Venturi & Rauch to assess the condition of the remnants that Barbara Leggett was exploring, doing her archeological digs. And it was a very slow process but not to be quite familiar with what was there. And then when it finally came time to do the reconstruction with John Milner, everything just fell into place very, very nicely.

What we have here is a rendered, this was one of the contract drawings and I had it colored with pencil so that I could illustrate what was happening down at the basement level for the Market Street houses. Market Street was at this lower perimeter here; this is the volt under Orianna Street the passage way that went back into the interior court. We have shown there the privies galore and not only the privies but the pits used for tanning leather when this in building was a leather facility of some kind or another.

What you can see here are the fact that we ran many of the heating, ventilating, air conditioning ducts below the basement floors because there simply wasn’t the dimensions to do it within the buildings themselves because the floor to floor heights were so shallow. This is the first floor plans for the same, this is the Orianna Street or is that button passage, this in building here next to channel 29 which is here did not have a historic party wall on the west but what we have here shown in red are the party walls that remain from Franklins houses.

Part of our planning was to anticipate the sequences of constructions and how do you get into the court because it was a closed court coming up from Chestnut Street it wasn’t a very narrow passage by the maritime museum and there wasn’t going to be a lot of traffic moving of earth concrete etcetera. We has anticipated that by taking this last house which was going to be a total reconstruction and provided a passage way so that the trucks could get in from Market Street. The contractors, who were they?

Male: Shoemaker.

Speaker 3: RM Shoemaker and Company won a bid project found that there was an unoccupied lot in this area here where there is one of these charter schools but it wasn’t open at the time. And they managed to rent or lease that site so that all of the material and equipment movement for the project instead of having to come through here could now come directly in from Four Street.

Our discovery was that the party walls were, the remnants were very shabby. And we were very much concerned about as we removed the over builds. The over builds are where the conversions of the Franklin houses into mid 19th century Mercian tier buildings where they changed the floor heights, front and rear facades extensions, over built by floor or two. It was the disassembly so that you could just reconstruct these was hard to say, a tedious demanding challenge.

This is a cross section, again we will give you a reference, there is a passage way, these are the vaults below the passage way. This is the building that has the open, how would you say it; it is like an open museum in that it has all of the existing wall finish remnants showing there. What we also have here were there fact that these represent the Victorian commercial floor levels. These are the reconstructed floor elves at the historic levels. And the Victorian overbuild was a floor higher up here, in fact one of there was another floor.

So our concern was to be able to install, we could no longer use the party walls for any support. So we then designed a series of little one building wide structures, light frame steel which we dropped between the party walls and then interconnected. For instance there is column for its building here, here is a column for this one and so we, you can’t see it here but we interconnected the frames through the party wall.

Thereby got the stiffness of the whole group of the 5 buildings to brace the party walls, but not only that, you see this lightly dotted ‘X’s they represent as the steel had been installed and before they Victorian floors had been removed; we braced everything and then everything was reduced manually. We were concerned about collapse; fortunately it didn’t happen.

This is a small diagram here Market Street in this case is in this area. This is the passage way for Orianna Street, different scale than what you are seeing there. We now see these little structures, light weight steel framing with bars bar joint floors being installed typically here to have fireproof construction and also to have the load capability for the occupancy required by the park service.

Off on the right here is the cross section showing how the frame had been installed. And I would like to point out to you, this is under pinning and the reason we have the under pinning is that in some cases the bottoms of the foundations walls were pretty bad conditions. But one of the things we had was is that Barbara Leggett and her people just trenched the daylight out of the basement so these buildings completely undercut the bottoms of the foundations walls; which were right at this level.

And here were these continuous pits here that they had opened up and just put loose soil back into them. Of course that provided very little restraint into the soil under the wall moving outward, so we needed to come back later and under pin the walls to stabilize them. This is a diagram of the reconstructed houses but I want you to notice this light blue. This represents that when the front wall on Market Street and the south wall back into court were constructed, they were constructed on not eight inches but 12 inches of masonry, four inches of brick.

And then we had the eight inch back up and the reason for that was it allowed the cables to run pipes and ducts and everything in that eight inch dimension. But it also permitted us to construct a continuous bond beam here to keep the façade together. Because what had happened was that the juxtaposition historically of openings over opening here just destroyed the masonry. There was no really good load path in the elevations for that.

What we saw was the Market Street elevation, this is the south elevations where again where we had the bond beam and all this crazy juxtaposition of openings here. One of the things that we, yester day I mentioned how at the APS we had these discoveries and the real issue and this was for Milner and he really was astute about it, was how do you really qualify that when you reconstruct these elevations that you are doing them with some level or accuracy?

And so references had to exist in the concealed finishes where finishes that had once been that when you put the crossword puzzle together you suddenly have the controls for an elevations. In one of the primary controls for the elevations are what are known as the [inaudible 00:57:16] blocks. There was at that location and at this locations here, buried in the walls, whenever they tore down the rear of the Franklin houses and extended them as commercial extensions, they simply budded the new walls against the old and the core [inaudible 00:57:48] walls remained in places and they were plastered over. And then we discovered them later and, wait, wait …

Male: There is actually a wall there.

Speaker 3: No, that is not the core [inaudible 00:58:06] block, the core [inaudible 00:58:07] block is up the above there up in here. And what we had seen this is the end joint, this is the market street house, this is the Victorian extension and the crack in the plaster told us what existed there. Here we found the configuration of the core [inaudible 00:58:35] block, Milner did, which then gave you the cross section of the corneas. So Charlie?

Male: [Inaudible 00:58:48]

Speaker 3: I’m sorry I don’t hear you.

Male: [Inaudible 00:58:56]

Speaker 3: Oh okay, one more and we quit whether we are finished or not. Alright but this was a very important thing in conjunction with insurance descriptions and some of the other houses at the carpenters had built at that time throughout Philadelphia. So the pieces came together and enabled them to do that. Oh wrong button … these are pictures of the pits etcetera, etcetera and this shows that temporally bracing that I had mentioned to you before. We had saved the party walls and now we are in the process of putting them together and so there we have it and we are finished.

Speaker 4: I hope that we learned today that our goal for perseveration needs to be larger than preservation itself. And we started Nick and I started with an idea about Charlie Peterson from Charlie Peterson and perhaps it’s fitting that the last time that many of us gathered in this space it was to memorialize Charlie Peterson. But it was Nick that refined that we are not preserving early America, we are in fact preserving America. And exactly what Brown had said to us today.

You are going to have four tours of potentially four different ways of preservations. John Milner gave us many more but you are going to have four different ways of preservations, we are going to have to find our own paths but I would just like you to reflect as you go through that. We can perfectly preserve this tower, to the way that John Adams saw it but again based on Brown Morton’s comments, can we really truly understand why John Adams had to climb that tower because it was the tallest space, the tallest structure in the United States or in the colonies at the time. The closest that man had ever built to Heaven, can we truly understand that when we ourselves fly above the clouds.

On the other hand we can, Dan has shown us we can build a ghost house and imagine what it was like. What would let our spirit sour, let our spirits find that. Or we can go to independence hall tower and realize that this not the tower our founder ever saw. It’s something else, it’s something even grander and millions of people have come to that tower, to that hall to be inspired by it. In fact millions of non-Americans have come to that but I remember or I want to read to you something that was prophetic, frighteningly prophetic, about an individual who came to that tower, stood in the shadow of the tower, that our founders had never seen.

He was stopped on his way to Washington to become the 16th president of the United States. And in a speech he had not anticipated to make, he said, “All the political sentiments I entertained have been drown so far as I have been able to draw them. From the sentiments that originated and were given to the world from this all in which we stand, I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the declaration of independence. It was that which gave promise to that, that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men and that all should have an equal change. Now my friend can this country be saved from this basis, if it can I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help save it. But if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle, I would rather be assassinated on this spot.”

A proud pauses obviously and he went on and said, “My friends this is wholly unprepared speech, I did not expect to be called upon to say word when I came here. I may therefore have said something in discreet but I have said nothing but what I’m willing to live by and in the presence of all might God, die by.”

And I think that may bring us to the final hole in the ground, we can certainly judge our founders but who will we have to judge ourselves as we preserve our story of our most heinous aspect of our national past, do we tire down or do we build up. The Washington house half built waiting for us to complete the foundations her and our founders out down for us. Or is it half gone because it was a tragic hypocrisy, unworthy of being remembered.

If we truly wish to understand the past we need to do more than dig with the Denis [Pickson scrap 01:04:38], with paint brushes. We need to pause and look deeper than we sometimes care to but Brown Morton has challenged us to. We need to look within ourselves and see the future we are preserving and creating for those who follow us.

Yes indeed we can in my opinion we can do the precision of this churches tower in preservation we can do the fabrications in all sense of the word in independent hall. We can do the sobering partial restoration of the president’s house or the whimsical imaginings of Franklin court. We have our choices but perhaps our best choice, whatever that choice might be when it comes to preserving American, would be something else that Abraham Lincoln wrote when he said, “America is God’s last best hope for mankind.”

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119