Johns Hopkins Gazette | February 2, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 2, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 20
Windows Into Gilman Hall's Past

Discussing the restoration of Gilman's historic windows are Todd Anderson, vice president of Worcester Eisenbrandt; Chris Smith, project manager with Bovis Lend Lease; Travers Nelson, program manager with Homewood Office of Design and Construction; and David Miller, project architect with Kliment Halsband Architects.
Photo by Will Kirk / HIPS

Restoration begins on Homewood building's historic glass treasures

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

While the demolition phase of the Gilman Hall renovation rumbles on, some nimble and delicate work on the building's glass treasures is being conducted off-site.

In November, Worcester Eisenbrandt, a building restoration contracting firm based in Baltimore, orchestrated the removal of 51 historic windows from the building's Hutzler Undergraduate Reading Room, Memorial Hall and elsewhere. After careful extraction, a process that took almost three weeks, the windows were trucked to the facility where they will be restored.

Earlier in the fall, Worcester Eisenbrandt's team of architectural conservators conducted a detailed material-condition survey of the Gilman Hall window openings to define the preliminary scope of the work. The firm, which handled the restoration of the Patterson Park Pagoda, will oversee the restoration of all the historic windows, which prominently feature art-glass panels and medallions. Though not original to the building, the windows have become iconic elements of the Homewood campus's first academic building.

Conservators will repair chips, mend wood and metal frames, replace hardware, seal cracks, reglaze all windows and, where necessary, re-create lost or damaged art. As much of the original windows and frames as possible will be preserved.

The work, which began this month, will be done in three phases: the negative (removing all the "bad" parts), assessment (deciding what to put back) and the positive (putting back repaired and replicated elements).

On a tour of the Worcester Eisenbrandt workshop last week, Johns Hopkins staff and representatives of Kliment Halsband Architects, the renovation's architect, and construction manager Bovis Lend Lease discussed specifics of the restoration work. Some items thrashed over were the method of paint removal and the possibility that glass from other old Gilman windows can be salvaged and used for replicating art glass panels.

The Hut's 19 stained-glass windows were designed by J. Scott Williams and presented to the university in 1930 by Mary King Carey in memory of her father, Francis T. King, an original university trustee. The windows' art displays the marks used by European printers from the 15th and 16th centuries, the dawn of the industry. For example, one of the central bay's single-sash curved windows- -each of which measures 15-1/2 feet tall and 8 feet wide--features the mark of William Caxton (1420-1491), who launched the first English printing press, notably producing Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Aesop's Fables.

Memorial Hall's four steel-sash picture windows feature stained glass panels with seals of the institutions at which building namesake Daniel Coit Gilman worked during his lifetime: Johns Hopkins, Yale, the University of California and the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Elizabeth Dwight Woolsey, Gilman's second wife, commissioned the work, which was completed in 1923. The casement windows have arched tops and measure just over 9 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

The three-year renovation effort to restore the 94-year-old building, which will cost $73 million, began in the summer of 2007. Reopening is scheduled for late summer 2010.

The windows will be returned to Gilman toward the end of the renovation.


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