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Detailed planning underway to restore Weeks Historic Site


November 28, 2012
LANCASTER — "Planning for the restoration work on the Mount Prospect campus of buildings is progressing nicely," reported Director Ben Wilson of the state Bureau of Historic Sites of the state Division of Parks and Recreation to a recent meeting of the directors of the Weeks State Park Association. "We've been assigned a new architect liaison — Timothy Smith of the state Bureau of Public Works (BPW).

"Architect Robert 'Rob' Bast, Smith, and I spent a full day on site recently investigating all the buildings that are included in the restoration, and we made some interesting discoveries that have helped define some of our earlier design quandaries.

"For instance, we have been trying to figure out how to incorporate a handicap accessible bathroom in the main house without disrupting the building fabric and original design of the main foyer. What we discovered on close inspection was that the doorways entering the current ladies' bathrooms and men's bathroom were made during the 1964 renovation.

"By simply removing the added door jamb and casing on both openings and returning the fenestration (opening) to its 'as built' design, we can gain enough space to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) code, allowing us to offer this convenience to our visitors while not disturbing the authenticity of the space.

"We'll also gain a more attractive hall access to the re-introduced door leading to the reconstructed rear terrace," Wilson pointed out.

"We spent a great deal of time measuring and inspecting the fire tower and green servants' cottage (southeast of the Lodge). "Developing specifications and drawings for these two structures is Rob Bast's main project focus right now. As it turns out, the fire tower is in much worse condition than previously thought. "The tower has suffered stone loss and is in desperate need of re-pointing in part due to the well-intentioned — yet incorrect — pointing work of the past.

"The cab floor supports have continued to deteriorate and will need total replacement in the spring before a watchman can start his or her duties. The sash in both the cab and tower are also in need of conservation work.

"The servants' cottage was actually a breath of fresh air," Wilson said. "Although it has mostly been neglected for the last 50 years, the building was originally built like a tank. Structurally the cottage is in excellent condition and after the removal of the 'Radio Room' (telecommunications) equipment, the interior will only need a thorough cleaning, a freshening up of the finishes and the addition of a simple kitchen and bath. Exterior work will be limited to cosmetics and work on accessibility.

"All and all I'm pleased with the progress that is being made and feel confident we will make our benchmarks as we work to get the project out to bid in January 2013," Wilson concluded.

"After our site visit I received a two-word e-mail from Smith regarding his opinion of the site: AWESOME PLACE! We have another fan."

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