As we move into April our project partner, the Imogen F. Wilson Education Foundation (IFWEF), is trading places with us to start work on some of their portions of the Wood House rehabilitation. This will allow the GCAS to rest and regroup for our next phase.
One of the GCAS's jobs during February and early March involved the Wood House's adobe fireplace. It had originally served the two downstairs rooms we are working on now, and the two rooms directly upstairs. This fireplace presented a dilemma for our volunteers: its chimney had disappeared decades ago, rendering it useless; but we determined that the surviving, out-of-plumb hearth and mantel downstairs were the central support for this four-room section of the Wood House. Removal was contraindicated.
After much discussion both groups decided the best course of action was to preserve the remains of the fireplace by encapsulating it with 2x4 framing and sheetrock. Much like backfilling an archaeological excavation, we intended to protect the fireplace from further disturbance while keeping it intact for future preservationists. Our encapsulation's design will give the library some much-needed shelf space on either side of the fireplace - not just for books but also for charging stations for small electronics. We plan to install a picture rail along the encapsulation's front surface because it is the only spot in the room the GCAS can hang pictures without damaging the room's original walls.
The sheetrock, electrical outlets, and framing for the bookshelves are all in place. IFWEF has assumed responsibility for installing each bookshelf and completing the encapsulation with rounded bullnose corners and a texture that harmonizes with the texture of the room's original walls. We can hardly wait!