Friday, May 3, 2019

Before and After

My station is clean, the cart is put away, and the Haish House has been safely secured in its box...

Today was my wrap-up day at the Regional History Center, and I took final pictures and put away all the things I stole from other workstations today. It was a bittersweet moment to see all the space that I filled nearly every Monday and Friday this semester be so empty, but the final pictures make it all worth it. 

Front View: Before
Front View: After
In the before picture, notice the sagging front porch and poor alignment of the tower.
 I have reattached the porch completely and the tower is properly aligned again.

Side view: Before

Side View: After
In the before picture, notice the broken chimney and shedding shrubbery. I cleaned and repaired the chimneys, cleaned up the shrubbery, and cleaned and replaced missing or broken window glass.

Back View: Before
Back View: After
During my work, I replaced a chimney that had fallen off completely and restabilized/attached the gazebo and porte-cochere which had been detached.

Side View: After

Side View: Before

This view affords a different perspective on the porte-cochere and displays the second porch which I replaced and stabilized.

I've had such a wonderful experience working with the RHC on this project, and it has opened so many new and fun avenues for me. Through this project, I've been able to visit the Art Institute's conservation lab, discuss marketing with the Dean of the Libraries, and speak with Haish descendants.

Rob, thank you for introducing me to Cindy--and by extension the project that would take over my life for six months. Cindy, thank you for making all of this possible and indulging all my bizarre shopping lists. Jessi, thank you for being so supportive and excited. It's been a joy to work with all of you, and I hope my work is up to par.

While I'm thanking people, I suppose I should thank W. Joseph Zack too for leaving his M.F.A. project at the DeKalb Public Library. It's been 38 years and the model is still going strong.

And thank you for following along.

Hours Today: 3:00

Total Hours: 85:30

Monday, April 29, 2019

Final Day of Work on the House



I mostly did it.

As I write, I am waiting for the glue to dry on the connections between the porte-cochere and the gazebo, but once I move the clamps (and everything is stable) I will be done.

Here's the gameplan going forward: I will spend the rest of my day today (like an hour or so) preparing to write my EngagePLUS reflection on this experience. I will carefully organize my materials so I'm not embarrassed by them by Friday when I will put away all the bits and bobs I have borrowed from various people at the RHC. Later in the week, I will also be putting together a final before-and-after blog post with all my pictures and some of my reflections on this process.

While I was working in the basement today, a couple of people stopped by to check out my progress and talk about the storage and display strategy going forward. When the case is ordered and my precious model is finally on display, I will absolutely update this blog with the good news.

Hours Today: 3:30

Total Hours: 82:30

Friday, April 26, 2019

Not Quite the End...

As I draw ever nearer to completing this project, I'm continually in awe of the progress that I have made in 15 short weeks. I am so excited to take final pictures and do some before-and-after comparisons, but today is not the day for that.
Instead, today I constructed the base for the model to sit on. I forgot to document most of the process (further demonstration of why I could never, ever be a YouTuber), but I have a couple of pictures of the anatomy of the corners. Essentially, I measured the amount of space I would need and then cut a piece of foam and a piece of museum board to fit. I measured a piece of buckram larger than the foam, and used all my gift-wrapping skills to make it look nice and glued the corners in place. I'm glad I took my time (it looks really nice) but I am a bit frustrated that I have to come back next week in the midst of my finals preparation. I have a feeling I will finish no later than a week from today. 

Hours Today: 4:00

Total Hours: 79:00

Friday, April 19, 2019

Prepping for my Last Day

Well, after nearly a month of waiting for a final shipment of supplies, I'm back at work... and my supplies still haven't come in.

While I'm waiting, I've been rough-drafting the base's size and shape. It needs to be able to fit in the case, as well as in the box (which is on its way) which will be its home in the archives. This involves a lot of measuring, marking, and measuring again, and there's only enough buckram for me to do this once. The buckram we bought (which I will use to cover the foam-and-museum board base) is in a lovely green, and I'm excited to work with it more.

There's really not much to report today other than that since I spent most of my time measuring and trying to clean up the 30-year-old fake shrubbery on the side of the model.

Only five hours left!

Hours Today: 3:00

Total Hours: 75:00

Friday, March 22, 2019

Final Touches on the Structure

Today I spent a full day working on the model, and I'm nearly done with all the structural work! I've reassembled the final porch, replaced the trim on the porte-cochere, and even glued the tiny raven back in its rightful place. The last thing I have left to do is glue the porte-cochere to the house, and place and secure the gazebo next to it. I can find no evidence that the gazebo and the porte-cochere were ever actually glued together, which is just highlighting the importance in my mind of a solid base to place the whole model on.

Regarding the base, I can't work on it until the first week of April, so I'll be taking next week off. I'm in a strange in-between stage and I can't proceed until the supplies we've ordered have arrived. But once they do, I'll only have 8 more hours of work left until I am officially and finally done with this project! I can't even begin to express how much fun this has been...

Well, maybe "fun" isn't quite the right word. This has been an extremely educational project, and I have learned how much I truly adore working with material culture and engaging with people over the history of a community. I've gotten much more patient, and I am finally, truly appreciating how important taking the time to start a project well is.

Hours Today: 6:30

Total Hours: 72:00

Monday, March 18, 2019

Picture This...

After 10 days off for spring break, I'm back in the groove at the Regional History Center. Steve Bigolin, a local historian in DeKalb County, recently donated a variety of Haish-related artifacts to the RHC, and I'm sure glad he did! I spent part of my afternoon inspecting the collection of pictures he gave us, which included both interior and exterior shots of the house. Let me tell you, I learned A LOT!

Okay, so. First of all, there was a picture in the group that was clearly the oldest shot of the mansion that exists (to the right, on the top). This shows not a porte-cochere and gazebo, but a sunroom-area with the same upper shape and window motif as the gazebo. It turns out that was actually the original design for the home, which Haish essentially designed himself. However, when the house was built, it was discovered that there was a flaw in the plans and when it rained water would leak into the home. Instead, they built the gazebo out of the remnant of that sunroom, and the shape of both the porte-cochere and the gazebo were taken from the roof. Upon looking even closer, I think I found another detail that was changed between the first and second pictures. The part of the leftmost porch on the bottom picture that juts out horizontally doesn't appear at all on the first picture, as far as I can see. I think that was also a later addition to the house, and that theory seems correct if you consider how unsymmetrical it makes that side of the house. There's really no balance.

 I also went looking for pictures of the back of the house, which is extraordinarily plain in the model. It seemed out-of-character for Mr. Haish to neglect ornamentation on even the section of his house which is off the street, and I was right. It seems that W. Joseph Zack didn't have access to pictures of this angle, since there are two doors and porches missing completely from his model, and there is climbing vegetation affixed to the wall of the model, perhaps to hide that he has no clue what was supposed to be back here... It makes sense that there would be few pictures of this are, given that it was most likely the service entrance, and the doors probably led to the kitchen, but it is interesting nonetheless to see that there are still carved columns and stonework on the back to accent the entrances.

In addition, there were several pictures which depicted the process of tearing down the Haish house in September of 1961. It was jarring for me to see the bits and pieces that I recognized in this state, and it makes me wonder how many people were watching the demolition... There were at least three different perspectives that I could see, but there were no people aside from the workers in any of the shots.

There were also some fabulous detail photographs of things that are on a very small scale in the actual model (and thus appear as little bumps, if at all--I'm not sure that Zack knew what they were if he was working from pictures). 

(left to right) Column detail of a rooster, column detail of Jacob Haish's face, wall detail that appeared next to the shorter side's porch.

Included in the pictures were a few newspaper articles from both the time the house was built and the time the house was demolished. The oldest article, from 1885 and titled "Palace Beautiful," describes the then-newly-completed home as an "original and attractive combination of Medieval, Gothic and Queen Ann style of architecture" which they praised as the newest trend. The latest article, from August 1961, helped elucidate the picture shown below. In advance of the Haish house's demolition, members of the community were allowed to tour the inside of the mansion for one last time. This is, apparently, the source of many interior pictures we still have. Now, this was not the only time the interior was seen. The house was owned by the Lutheran church next door, and they used it to teach Sunday school, but there were some truly delightful pictures of middle-aged Swedish women posing in fromt of fireplaces and by large mirrors, like the one below. 

In addition to all the fun I had with the pictures, I also began to glue together the final porch that's been missing on the house and made a final decision about the house's base. Hopefully I'll finish the porch on Friday, then I'll take a week off and resume the home stretch on this project when my supplies come in at the beginning of April.

Hours Today: 3:30

Total Hours: 65:30

Friday, March 8, 2019

Level Placements

The end is drawing nigh, and I desperately want to get a case for this model ordered before the end of spring break. Cindy isn't sure if it will happen, but if the case does get ordered this semester it will take about 6 weeks to arrive. That means it'll be here by the end of April, which means I'll be finishing up this project during finals week... IF the case gets ordered in the next week. The ones we're looking at are in the realm of $2-4,000. Needless to say, that ain't cheap.

Today, I went over the roof area again with a fine tooth comb, and I glued down various bits of trim that were peeling off/making pests of themselves. I actually ended up taking off and reattaching the one chimney I hadn't messed with yet in this process, since it was most certainly the weakest link. Whoever thought that a loop of scotch tape would be the appropriate way to affix a broken chimney back on the house wasn't thinking clearly.

I also have officially placed the second floor on top of the first. I had some trouble aligning it, since one of the repairs I made to the tower was apparently not affixed properly, but once I addressed that issue everything came together. I actually tacked together the two floors in two different places, one on the corner by the fake climbing plants, and one on the front corner by the porch which I have already attached. This will keep the top layer from shifting while still allowing the level to be removed with a little bit of acetone applied to the place where they were glued.

I'll be taking next week off for spring break, but when I'm back I'm looking forward to the process of replacing the second porch.

Hours Today: 6:30

Total Hours: 62:00