Friday, February 02, 2007

Obscured by Plexiglass

The decorative plaster elements in the ceiling coffers of the Wisconsin Historical Society Reading Room were exposed last week when the plexiglass panels that conceal fluorescent tubes were removed. Modifications made to Society Headquarters in the 1950s and 1960s that were intended to modernize the building have compromised the architectural integrity of spaces through out. However, the Reading Room has retained a good deal of its original historic fabric along with its monumental volume. Having been "tucked away" for fifty years may have spared these decorative elements from further alteration.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Appleton Lock #4

Work is being completed on the first phase of the restoration of the Fox River Navigational system in Appleton. Above, two images from Appleton Lock 4 illustrate some of the repairs and improvements. A wood Lock Keepers shack was installed at the site, replacing a utilitarian metal structure from the 1970s or 1980s that had, in turn, replaced a wood shack that was similar to this replica. The design of the wood structure was based on historic prototype as revealed by old photographs and extant examples of the circa 1915 buildings that remained in place at Appleton Lock sites 2 and 3. The simple post light fixtures lining the edge of the chamber are based on a 1929 Corps of Engineers drawing for a nearly identical lamp that had illuminated this lock for at least five decades.

The lower photograph illustrates the refurbished metal flywheel and gears that are used to manipulate the gates that flood the chamber. The lattice spar that extends from the wall is attached to the gate and another hand-operated mechanism (not visible). A similar apparatus is attached to each of the four gates and is used to open and close them.