Monday, September 20, 2010

Bad News at Monumental Church

The Restoration Department has finished the demolition part of the stair tower room. What a mess! Of the seven original joists, only two could be salvaged. Of the period, heart pine floor boards, only four could be salvaged. An item of interest is that the four good floor boards were not tongue and groove, whereas all the rest were. All the floor boards were pit-sawn and adzed on their undersides and nailed with period "L" head nails, so they appear to have been installed at the same time. Puzzling.

The bad news is that we discovered active termites in the stair tower joists, floor boards and in the stairs themselves. Amy Swartz, the HRF Executive Director has had the Church treated for termites and has a contract with a pest control company for annual inspections. This should have been sufficient to prevent a termite infestation, but it was not. When we met with representatives of the pest control company, they were at a loss as to explain how their annual inspections did not detect the new infestation. Perhaps we can help. During the demolition phases of both the passage room and the stair tower, we observed numerous abandoned termite tubes clinging to both wood and masonry surfaces. We do not see how a termite company can tell if a these signs of activity are new or old, unless the pest control technician removes the tubes during the inspection. The tech could check for living termites as he is removing the tubes. Doing this annually would make new termite activity obvious. The logical conclusion is that Amy need to pursue a new pest control company, once her current company has finished its contractual obligations.

A last item of interest is the stairs themselves. The treads, risers and most other elements are cypress. We know they are period because there are "transition" nails attaching the bottom of the risers to the back of the treads. These nails, with cut bodies and forged heads were made mostly from 1790 to 1815, which fits nicely into the 1814 date of construction for the church.

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