Our Arts Center, the former St. Anthony’s Church, is a work in progress
An update as of June 25, 2010.
The Slate Roof
Repair work was completed in one (very long) day, June 19, by Vince Jameson and his crew, using a very large lift on the north side and around the towers and a “chicken ladder” on the south side. The invoice is attached, and comes to $19,974, which is precisely the original estimate. I will submit this to the city this week and hope to get this resolved soon. Our grant is for $20,500, so there is a small amount left over that I will request that we be allowed to apply toward our back room project.
Vince briefed Anthony Littlejohn and me at the end of the job. The main cause of leaks along the north wall appears to have been a soda bottle lodged in one of the drains. He felt very confident that they got all the loose and missing slate, and that they addressed all the possible sources of water in the bell tower. I was there almost the entire day, and they spent maybe half of their time on and around the bell tower. Now we wait and see.
The Flat Roof
The flat roof had about four inches of standing water, we discovered. Mike Guidice and I got up there and unplugged the drain and the water went right out. I took a look at the ceiling under the roof and saw no evidence of leaks, which is very good news. I did find a lot of water in the basement (see below). Going back up today to sweep up the roof still looks like it’s in okay shape, although there seems to be some deterioration of the roofing material around the drain (which is situated on the north side, next to the slate roof).
We will set up a regular schedule for checking this roof and making sure the drain is working and get a roofer to do an inspection.
Our Meneeley Bell is in good shape and has an inscription on it. The picture from the roofers appears to read that the bell was donated in memory of Antonio Travison, who died in 1916. We’d appreciate hearing from anybody with more information.
The roofers greased the clapper mechanism, but Vince said the cradle would need more work before it could be operational. That means that when we pull the cord we are simply moving the clapper, and we should be careful not to pull too hard or too quickly. All in all, though, he said things seem to be in good shape up there.
The small room below the bell tower had quite a bit of water, maybe three inches, after the last heavy rains. Also, the room next to it, which we have used for storage, is quite wet. We had to remove two BoardedUp pieces from the Madison Avenue side to create some ventilation into those two rooms. Fans are now drying out that space, so the next time we have heavy rains we should be able to tell if we still have problems.
We had half dozen or so of the old religious statues remaining in the basement, most of them found in a closet in the furnace room but for the last several years stacked in a corner. They are plaster and were badly deteriorated when we found them, and have been getting worse due to the moisture there.
Terry Rooney, who has been working with us this spring as an AmeriCorps volunteer and who is also an artist, has gotten interested in them and has already taken some to restore. He and I agree that we need to get the three life-size statues remaining in the basement out of there, and he has now removed them. He will take photographs, research them and send the info to me.
The walls have been scraped, sealed with BIN and painted over. The difference is amazing! We left the big chalk drawings alone, and Missy will experiment with hair spray or something similar to try and preserve them and fix the paint in place. Terry Rooney has experimented with various compounds to seal up the exposed wire mesh where plaster has fallen away, and has now covered up all the obvious danger points. The results are not very attractive, but I view this as a temporary fix until we can get the masons union apprentices back in to do more work, hopefully next winter.
We have started work on Anthony’s project to wrap the low ceilings and molding along the sides with fabric. It looks great and should be done next week.
Once the wrapping is completed our work on the sanctuary is done for the summer. This has taken a lot of our staff time, and could not have been accomplished without the volunteers from TASC. a local reentry program that sends us workers that we have to supervise.
We also have Albany Youth Build working in the building now, primarily on the back rooms. They have a supervisor with them, but there is also a significant amount of supervision needed. That has fallen to Missy and Terry, primarily, and while it is worth-while Missy needs to have more time for her other duties.
There are a number of other building projects we could ask Youth Build to take on, both in the building and at the YO garden. But we need supervision to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
The Back Rooms
The large room is being painted, and the small room (office) is still in the taping/sanding phase. We need a strategic plan to finish this up.
First step, I think, is to get the large room in shape to hold all the new furniture and other stuff that we need to get out of the sanctuary in time to start Kids Club. My own thinking is that we paint the walls and plywood floor now, and then move on to the office.
It is crucial to our next year plans that the office be operational this fall. In fact, our new VISTA starts work August 9, and (oddly enough) Siena expects him to have an office. We have the furniture. We have a large number of Mac computers that I am taking over to Daniel and Graham to get sorted out and set up for our use (and others). I am working with Tech Valley Communications to get free internet service for the building. But we will have additional expenses once the room is painted:
- Electrical. We sill owe Steve Erickson $1,000 and will need to get that to him before he finishes his work.
- Doors and trim. We need specs and estimates. The doors to the office need to be secure.
- Windows. Our plan is to use inserts in front of the stained glass, and we need prices.
- By fall, we need to install baseboard heating.
- By fall, we need to do more insulation around the bathrooms and also wrap all pipes with heat tape to prevent freezing. We also need to complete the carpentry and, taping and painting in the bathrooms.
Both Mike DeWein and I have been too busy to make much progress on this. We hope to get together soon. We are still searching for anybody who can tell us about energy use before the church was closed in 1972.
The good news is that the Harriet Tubman Free School, our prospective tenants/partners for the basement, will be receiving its state charter in a matter of weeks, and thus will be able to grow substantially with a stable income. Our architects plans are done, we have good price estimates and we will be seeking funding for our basement rehab project with this school starting this fall.