Museum replacing damaged skylight

MARIETTA – The installation of a custom-made skylight began Thursday at the Campus Martius Museum in Marietta, replacing the 80-plus-year-old fixture destroyed in last year’s derecho.

Durable Restoration of Columbus fabricated the stainless steel skylight frame with copper cladding that was raised onto the museum’s roof Thursday morning by a crane belonging to Marietta-based All Crane Rental Corp. Two layers of glass – one of which has been tempered, the other laminated – will be put in place this morning. It’s the same type of glass used at the Ohio Historical Society’s library in Columbus, where the state constitution, among other items, is housed.

“The Ohio Historical Society views the Putnam House in the same category as our collections … in our library in Columbus,” said Fred Smith, architectural services department manager for the historical society, which owns the Campus Martius building.

The transplanted home of Rufus Putnam, one of Marietta’s founding fathers, is directly beneath the skylight but was not damaged during the June 29 derecho, which downed numerous trees and knocked out power around the region. However, severe winds lifted the museum’s single-piece, corrugated glass skylight, causing it to shatter and raining pebble-sized pieces of glass into the room where the house stands and onto Washington Street.

A tarp covered the opening at the museum for months while the new skylight was designed and built.

Amy Kaspar, architect for OHS, said the new skylight is a significant improvement over its predecessor.

“It had no insulation, no UV protection,” she said. “And obviously it was quite flimsy, which caused it to blow off in the storm.”

The new skylight will include high-quality archival glass that will be more energy efficient, Kaspar said. With proper maintenance, the new addition is expected to last for decades.

“It really should last 80 to 100 years,” said Kurt Leahey, project manager for Durable Restoration.

And if it is damaged, the reinforced glass would not fall onto the historic house beneath it, Smith said.

“If we get wind damage or something falls on it again, it’s going to hold,” he said, comparing it to automobile windshield glass that does not shatter.

The local Friends of the Museums organization manages Campus Martius and the Ohio River Museum, but the historical society owns the buildings. The $44,500 cost of the skylight will not come from local funds, Smith said.

“We’re working with the state to (obtain) insurance money, because (the damage) was from the storm,” he said.

Smith and Kaspar said it is important to maintain Campus Martius because it maintains the history of the first settlement in the Northwest Territory and the start of the United States’ westward expansion.

“It’s important not only to the history of Marietta and the state but also the country,” Kaspar said.

They also praised the efforts of the Friends group, which has resulted in increased attendance at both local museums in the three-and-a-half years since they became partners with OHS.

“It’s only fitting the state and OHS would invest in their efforts,” Kaspar said.

Museum manager Le Ann Hendershot said the attendance at Campus Martius for January was 478, thanks in part to an Archeology Day program and a visit by students, parents and teachers from Ohio Connections Academy, an online community school with students around the state. The approximately 170 people that came that day eclipsed the total January 2012 attendance of 155.

The installation of the skylight had been delayed a couple of times due to weather concerns. Workers for Durable Restoration and All Crane started setting up before 9 a.m. Thursday. A little after 10, they began securing the skylight to the crane and hoisted it onto the roof.

About half an hour later, two custom-built crates containing the glass panes for the skylight were lifted onto the roof as well. Durable Restoration workers used suction cups to lower the panes into place.

A portion of Second Street was closed for about three hours while the work was done.

Work on the skylight is expected to be completed today, but that won’t be the end of the historical society’s work on the museum this year.

A new roof is being placed on the land office – the oldest building in Ohio, where Revolutionary War veterans made land transactions from their payments for military services- that stands behind the museum. That $16,400 project, utilizing hand-split oak shakes to match the original structure, is being paid for through state capital funds, Kaspar said.

They also anticipate refacing a 75-foot section of brick veneer facade below the museum this summer. The segment crumbled to the ground about two years ago, with the collapse attributed to drainage problems and inadequate metal ties.

In addition, the society is aiming to have the second phase of restoration of the W.P. Snyder Jr., the steam hauling boat that is the signature exhibit at the Ohio River Museum, under way this year. The $958,000 project will include replacement of the main deck plating, boiler deck plating and the ship’s electrical system and painting the entire vessel.