Belmont College Students Complete Restoration Work in Local Community
St. Clairsville, OH (August 24, 2016) – Students in the Building Preservation/Restoration (BPR) program at Belmont College recently completed work on several local historic buildings in Wheeling, West Virginia and Washington, Pennsylvania as part of their Summer Community Field Lab class.
Projects included restoration work at the Stifel Fine Arts Center and the Blue Church, both in Wheeling, WV, as well as work at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA. 13 students from the BPR program collectively contributed more than one-thousand hours over a thirteen-day period under the supervision of Belmont College BPR Instructors Cathie Senter and Jon Smith.
“Working on historic properties in our local community is very rewarding for the students,” said Senter. “Not only do they gain hands-on, practical experience working on actual historic buildings, but they also have the opportunity to give back to the community.”
The first few days of the field lab, the students completed work at the Stifel Fine Arts Center located on National Road in Wheeling. The two and a half story, Classical Revival mansion was built between 1910 and 1912. The home was originally designed to be “fireproof” as it was constructed with brick and terra cotta walls as well as concrete floors with some steel framing. The Stifel family occupied the home until 1976, when the family donated it to Oglebay Institute to be used as the Stifel Fine Arts Center.
Oglebay Institute is currently working with an architect to plan the preservation and the scope of work regarding the mansion’s porte cochere. The students were enlisted to stabilize and protect the porte cochere to prepare for its reconstruction. In addition, the students also repaired and restored the wood railing along the front porch.
The second work destination work for the BPR students was The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, which opened in Washington County, PA in February 1963. Currently the museum is home to a collection of nearly 50 cars, over 600 members worldwide, 150 active volunteers, and over 30,000 visitors annually.
The work at the Trolley Museum included re-roofing two free-standing trolley stop shelters with cedar shingles. One shelter was a small and simple rectangular shelter, while the other was a larger octagonal shelter with a sweeping curve up all eight segments of roof. These shelters were used by two different interurban trolley companies in Butler County and are over 100 years old.
Scott Becker, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, said, “This was a great opportunity for students to get hands-on experience while helping to preserve these two trolley era artifacts. We appreciate their dedication to learning these important skills.”
Additionally, the students completed some restoration work on decorative moldings for the “Blue Church.” The 1837 Greek Revival church is one of the few pre-Civil War buildings still remaining in Wheeling. Located on Byron Street, this building is the best example of Greek Revival architecture in Wheeling.
“Currently, the Blue Church is under construction for structural repairs to its timber-framed roofing system and new built-in gutters,” said Senter. “Our part of the project was to restore some decorative wood elements that look similar to Legos along the soffits. Because this is a difficult building to access, the contractor removed the mutules and the students performed much of the work off-site in the BPR classroom labs.”
According to Jake Dougherty, Executive Director, Wheeling National Heritage Area, “One of Wheeling’s greatest assets is its historic architecture. As a community, we are fortunate to have Belmont College’s BPR program and the Summer Field Lab providing the hands on experience and skills our community needs to preserve our beautiful buildings. We are grateful for the students’ and instructors’ time and skills to help preserve the Blue Church.”
The students involved in summer restoration work projects included:
“When working at a job site, the students have to deal with issues such as, weather, building occupants, jobsite setup and dismantling among other things,” said Senter. “Working at a construction site or in an old building has a lot more variables than the controlled environment of our labs. Additionally, they also see how much time I spend acting as the project manager in coordinating with the building owner, procuring supplies and tools, ensuring quality control, contracts, insurance and the managing the schedule. In order to encourage that leadership role, each student acts as the site foremen and safety supervisor for part of the time.”
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