Historical society faces history of work The Clay County Historical Society held its meeting on Feb. 25 at the Austin Whittemore House Museum. Preservation Specialist Matthew Williams showed slides and talked about Understanding Deterioration in the Preservation Process.
The following is an excerpt from his discussion. "Ignoring and failing to control the water on a building leads directly to many forms of deterioration. If you understand weathering you have a diagnostic tool that will help you turn a regular maintenance program into long term, preservation process. Restoring some traditionally valued methods of work will remove the need to remodel, renovate, or replace a lot of things that someone before you worked hard to create."
"The vigorous use of our senses and appropriate thought is vital. Popular terms like restoration and renovation implies that everything is fine now, but weathering does not stop. The mechanics of weathering involves concepts we all understand. An unserviced gutter system deposits water where it is uninvited. Dampness is all it takes to help freezing and thawing destroy a whole lifetime of well spent energy in a few years. Even guarding against the rain and snow can not be enough. Too much caulking can also trap moisture creating a rot farm. Condensation freezes and thaws causing damage from the interior." Examples of materials, repair techniques, survey skills, training in architectural details, and databases were given.
Careful steps are being taken to stretch the life of major investments made to the museum during the 1970s. Over the next three to five years a major effort needs to be made to protect the assets of the house museum. Repair and replications of storm windows are in the works to protect the building. Doorways need close attention also. A new roof is anticipated by 2004.
The development of the Austin Whittemore Preservation Workshop brings out ideas to use the museum for more conservation assignments. The need for more places to actually do conservation work and train skilled people is a museum responsibility. The development of architectural survey methods along with expertise in research is helping us be more authentic to the late 19th and early 20th century period displays. The replacement of back porches, replicating the original picket fence, and a music program aimed at regional music history are being discussed. Also, an annual basket social in the north part of Clay County as an outreach effort to reacquaint residents with the historical society's assets and responsibilities is being considered. Besides the Austin Whittemore House Museum, the society has Reverend Brown's Cabin and the Log School House to care for. About 20 volunteers have offered help to keep the Austin Whittemore House Museum open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily beginning in May. More people who are available on the weekends should contact Cleo Erickson at 624-5539. Curiosity for historic buildings and objects is a key attraction, but a number of people come in search of ancestors and directions to information.
Our own "Antiques on the Road Show" will be held on March 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Austin Whittemore House Museum. Tables will be set up for men, women, and children. All kinds of antiques are of interest. Your objects or collections will help us get in touch with local customs related to various trades, domestic work, and fashions of different periods. The public in invited to bring something to test our members and guests. Joe Hoffman, long time resident and antique authority, will host the affair. It will do us all good if we can stump him. If he doesn't know we vow to try and find out. This will be an evening of fun. Everyone is welcome.