Posted by: PearlSBuckHouse | 06/10/2013

Exposing the Beams: Spring 2013

As summer quickly approaches, the work at the Pearl S. Buck House is coming to a close. A team of volunteers, staff and the construction crew are working on final preparations to get the interior of the house ready for the public unveiling at the Grand Reopening Celebration on June 26.

Below are a few photos and captions about the work completed during the past two months.

This patched area that once bordered an exterior stone wall is now the interior dining room wall. Exploration for re-wiring paths and repairs led to many such searches and patches.

dining room wall repair (2)
Work on the living room floor included support and wood repair. An assessment of the flooring from both the basement and living room presented several options for repair which were discussed. When a repair involves a large surface area of wood, an epoxy repair is impractical and the area is considered for a wood patch, or Dutchman repair.

Floor assessment (2)

Floor Repair- LR (2)
This built-in bench in the Pearl S. Buck Office has been lifted to examine the flooring and the window for wood condition, radiator assessment, and repairs.

Built in PSB Office (2)
These two light fixtures are original fixtures from the exterior of the house. Note the green or patina on the metal- this is evidence of the copper content in the metal as it oxidizes in the outdoor elements for a weathered patina finish.

Discussion on the restoration or replacement of the exterior lights of the home will depend on associated costs, as such repairs have been known to be very costly.

lights over door (2)

Maganese glass lights (2)
As part of the changes to clearly mark exits and fire routes, electrical conduit piping was placed into the apex of the breezeway. This piping houses wiring for security lighting and newly installed exit signs.

May blog breezeway (2)
Following the repair of substantial water infiltration through the chimney masonry between the Richard Walsh and Pearl Buck office wall, plaster and paint restoration to the Pearl Buck office was completed and restored to its original condition.

If you look to the top left, you will see a cupboard where Pearl S. Buck kept manuscripts of her work (most likely to keep them secure-the equivalent of a safe). These documents were housed in a fireproof metal filing cabinet within the cupboard.

May blog FP PSB Office Mantle (2)
This north-facing window of Richard Walsh’s office is seen with UV-blocking magnetized panels and newly-cut radiator vents in the sill. Consequently, less heat will be blocked, condensation will decrease, wood rot will be kept to a minimum, and heat will be more evenly distributed throughout the room.

May Richard Walsh Office Sills (2)
In the secretary’s office, the hardwood floor will be addressed in the upcoming week for a finished and unified stain appearance.

SEc office floor (2)
Be sure to check back for the final unveiling of the Pearl S. Buck House following the June 26 Grand Reopening. The community is invited to attend this complimentary event and witness the ribbon cutting ceremony and enjoy tours of the house along with garden walks. Register here: www.pearlsbuck.org/opening

Posted by: PearlSBuckHouse | 03/27/2013

Exposing the Beams: March 2013

Nearly a month of exploration and preliminary work in the basement and attic is the way to quickly summarize what transpired in the month of February once the house was turned over to the contractor.  A month was necessary because everyone involved in the final phase of restoration is working toward the ultimate goal of completing the work without major modifications having to be made to the interior architectural finishes of the Pearl S. Buck House.  The month enabled us to find the best pathways for re-wiring the house, adding infrastructure required for an upgraded fire detection system, and making alterations to the existing HVAC System.

All hard-wired electrical fixtures throughout the house and cottage will be cataloged, removed and restored before re-installation takes place.  Here you will see evidence of lighting/electrical fixtures in place and the current view after having been removed in the Mud Room.

Photo #70 - Electrical Fixtures

Photo #70a - Mud Rm Lights

Recognized as a significant need to ensure the long-term preservation of the house, completely re-wiring the structures will ensure the safety of the home and the visitors who will continue to enjoy tours and exhibits into the future.  Shown below is one of the electrical panels found in the basement.  You will see an array of wiring representative of years past and some more current wiring similar to what may be found in your home today.

Photo #71a - Elec Panel in Basement

Every outlet and light switch will be replaced and upgraded to correspond with the new wiring. Examples of old fixtures are shown here during the exploration work.

Photo #71 - Old Wiring - Outlet

Photo #72 - Outlet and Plaster Wall

As a result of years of water infiltration, some interior plaster finishes and built in cabinets are also scheduled for restoration. This unusual built in cabinet in the living room of the house, formerly housed the phonograph records for the family, will be completely restored as well as the plaster wall above it.

Photo #74 - Built in Cabinet

 The large library, just a few steps away, housed two record players (a 33 ½ speed and 45 speed) which were tucked away in a closet beneath the stairs. The corresponding speakers are nestled into the book shelves, as if they were to be undetected by those who enjoyed the music they projected.

The interior trim work of this window with an eastern exposure out onto the courtyard is another example of the damage created by wind-driven rain and fluctuations in interior temperatures. When the house re-opens, evidence of the deterioration in the trim will be gone.

Photo #75 - Window Trim

In some areas of the house, the best solution was to install new conduits that will support the electrical and fire detection systems running from the basement through the attic. You will see in this photo of Pearl S. Buck’s bedroom, pre-existing mechanical system pipes painted to match the interior walls now co-exist with the new conduit. The conduit will be painted when the entire interior of the home receives a fresh coat of paint.

Photo #73 - New Conduit for Elec - Fire Detection

Ms. Buck and her husband, Richard Walsh, would often leave detailed lists of work to be done at their home while they vacationed with their family.  Prior to the existence of computer paint chip analysis, the human eye was relied upon to match the color of the paint in the house.  As one might imagine, there are numerous rooms in the house that have vague and subtle variations in the color and finishes.  Some walls and trim vary from flat to an eggshell finish, while other trim can be found in semi-gloss and a higher gloss finish.

Photo #76 - Wall and Trim Paint

To ensure accuracy, the letters in the archives from the home owners requesting repairs and painting of interior surfaces were carefully reviewed. Based on paint analysis taken during the development of the Historic Structures Report, the solution moving forward is to have the entire home repainted in the same color, except for the boy’s “yellow” bathroom. The walls will receive an eggshell finish and the trim will receive a semi-gloss finish to bring uniformity throughout. This will also enable future preservation to be completed more easily.

Similar consideration was also taken when identifying the paint for the floors in the mud room and the dining room.  As the main entry into the house for tours, the floor of the mud room receives a great deal of foot traffic, as it did during the family’s occupation when the children would enter and remove their muddy shoes.  The Walsh family chose a utilitarian brick floor to hold up to wear and tear of their growing family.  Appearing to be semi-gloss sealant paint over brick, under closer inspection in the protected areas of the floor and in the corners of the closet, a rich barn-red paint, in a high gloss finish, was revealed. To eyes accustomed to the well-worn floor, some of these updates may seem to be changes, when in fact they are restorations to original colors and finishes.

Photo #77 - Floor Paint

Posted by: PearlSBuckHouse | 02/13/2013

Exposing the Beams: February 2013

Welcome Back! We are pleased to bring you up to date on our preservation project at the Pearl S. Buck House National Historic Landmark since our last post in August 2012.  As a result of a mild start to the 2012 winter season, the installation of an elevated sand mound septic system to service the restrooms in the Cottage and Cultural Center on the historic site was successfully installed prior to winter temperatures really taking hold. The sand mound will be seeded for grass in the spring.

Photo #63-New Sand Mound

Photo #62 - New Septic System

Preliminary work to begin packing the contents of the Pearl S. Buck House actually began in late December, behind the scenes of our 34th Annual Holiday Festival of Trees. While visitors enjoyed the holiday décor, our Curator, with volunteer assistance, began the careful process of removing and/or relocating collection items routinely stored in rooms that are not on the tour.

After the holiday décor was removed by the decorators in January, the Curator worked in tandem with volunteers to methodically protect the collections and rooms where renovation work would take place during this final phase of our eight-year journey towards full restoration and preservation of the exterior and interior of the home.

Collection items were first photographed on display in each room, then recorded in an electronic record that documented: item # and location on display, box# item stored in, and location of temporary storage of boxes. Whenever possible, items packed away into boxes, were stored within the room where they were on display. All furnishings were consolidated into locations within the rooms and covered by fabric (sheets, table cloths, and blankets) and then covered in plastic to allow for contractor access.

The largely intact collection dates to the time of Buck’s residence (1937-1973) and includes items that reflect her many years of global travel and her early life in China.  Here is a before and after perspective of the Large Library.

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Pearl S. Buck International volunteers help with packing the clothing and contents of Ms. Buck’s bedroom closet. Pictured L to R: Sally Wilkinson, Susie Woodland, and Judy Nygard.

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Here is a before and after perspective of the Richard Walsh Office in the Cottage.

Photo #67 - RWO Situ

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By the first week of February, the House was ready to be turned over to the firm responsible for overseeing Period B of Phase III which consists of interior work including HVAC unit modifications, humidification and dehumidification adjustments, and upgrade of components as needed; complete rewiring of the House to meet code requirements, including rewiring of fixtures, and power devices; installation of UV storm windows; sealing off existing non-use plumbing fixtures; smoke detection system upgrades; replacing security system equipment and adding cameras along tour pathways; repair of wood trim, sills, built-in cabinets, wood flooring, plaster and gypsum wall board, and application of a fresh coat of paint to all painted surfaces.  In accordance with historic museum preservation standards, the contractors will preserve existing materials, utilize techniques to restore existing materials and replacement will be performed only as necessary utilizing in-kind materials.

Photo #69 - Hard Hat Zone

Staff is continuing to submit grant proposals in an effort to raise the remaining $424,815 required to meet the $1.6 million dollar projected costs of Phase III. You can help us reach our fundraising goal by contributing to the capital campaign via our website at www.psbi.org/capitalcampaign

Posted by: PearlSBuckHouse | 09/05/2012

Exposing the Beams: May 19 – August 31, 2012

By the middle of May, two rain gardens were constructed in the area of the garden tent on the historic site, per the requirements of the Hilltown Township Land Development provisions. The rain gardens are designed to collect the rain runoff from the tent and allow the collected water to leech slowly into the surrounding soil, reducing erosion and sediment accretion along Morris Run.

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Also, in May, plans for the construction of a new elevated sand mound septic system that will service the restrooms in the Cottage and Cultural Center on the historic site were underway.  The plans remain a work in progress with a local engineering firm, who will secure approvals from the Bucks County Department of Health before seeking final approvals from the Commonwealth’s Department of Environmental Protection.  Installation of the new system could occur as early as November 2012, pending approvals from all officials and weather conditions.

Preliminary work on the mechanical systems in the basements of the Pearl S. Buck House and Cottage were completed by the time August came to a close. Hot water coils and humidifier recirculation ducts for the air handler units were put into place but not yet rendered fully operational. In order to bring the new components online, the entire heating system would need to be drained and then recharged before turning everything back on.  Given that additional work scheduled  in February 2013 would also involve the same process of purging the system, it was agreed that holding off on piping in the new fixtures was in the best interest of the mechanical and plumbing systems overall.

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A new exterior door was installed at the entrance to the Cottage between the two greenhouses.  Replacing the wooden framed structure and wooden door with a steel frame and door designed to withstand the elements should greatly reduce water infiltration and safeguard the mechanical systems in the Cottage basement.

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The project is on hiatus until January 1st, 2013 when staff and volunteers will work together to carefully inventory, pack and store the collections before Phase III work resumes on the interior in February.

Staff is continuing to submit grant proposals and recently issued a Capital Campaign newsletter outlining the progress of the eight-year journey to complete the preservation project on the Pearl S. Buck House in an effort to raise the remaining $440,000 required to meet the $1.6 million dollar projected costs. You can help us reach our fundraising goal by contributing to the capital campaign via our website at www.psbi.org/capitalcampaign.

Posted by: PearlSBuckHouse | 05/24/2012

Exposing the Beams: May 1 – May 18, 2012

It is always amazing to see how quickly the final stages of restoration work comes together versus the time it takes to plan, design, dismantle, and rebuild/restore subsurface systems, terraces, planter boxes, chimney caps, and slate roofs, for example.  As planned, Phase III, Part A hit its completion deadline of mid May much to the enjoyment of our guests who attended our 8th Annual Taste of the World event on May 18th and just in time for the first wedding reception of the season on the grounds of the Pearl S. Buck House on May 19, 2012.

A ditch was dug to accommodate the new underground pipe which would carry all water from the new underground drainage pipes installed under the terraces, and around the greenhouses to the nearby creek bed.

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This photograph reflects the same area of the lawn located to the Eastern side of the breezeway after the surface was restored and is being watered.

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Concrete footers were installed to support the stairs which would allow visitors to safely enter and exit the lawn from the Southern edge of the upper flagstone terrace.

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The areas of the lawn which were disturbed during this phase of the project were graded and new sod was installed.

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The temporary road way which allowed construction vehicles and equipment to gain access to the project was removed, the ground was re-graded and new sod was installed.

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One by one, the gardens, which were temporarily removed in and around the terraces, were also reinstalled by Pearl S. Buck International’s Groundskeeper, staff, and wonderful volunteers! Here you will see the finished steps leading to the upper terrace and the beautiful gardens which surround them.

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Here is a view of the lower terrace, finished stairwell, planter boxes and upper terrace which awaits our visitors.

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The final touches of the interior work in the yellow bathroom were completed as the window was painted and the resulting appearance would lead our visitors to believe the window always appeared exactly as you see it today.

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One additional fragment of pottery was found prior to completion of the lower terrace.

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The following images are for your enjoyment and reflect the results of the due diligence carried out by our staff, the general contractor Wu & Associates and the architectural firm of Mills + Schnoering to ensure the goals for Part A of Phase III were attained.

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Future work outlined for Phase III to be completed this summer will include interior work at the basement level in preparation for the upgrades to the HVAC system and sump-pump installations.

The stone pavers and steps which run in front of the northern terrace and along the edge of the award-winning pond installed by Pearl S. Buck will be re-set and re-pointed further enhancing visitors’ safety and enjoyment as they tour the beautiful floral and water gardens and foliage.

The stone pavers, steps and planter boxes that run along the exterior eastern side of the Breezeway will also be re-set and re-pointed further enhancing the beauty of the gardens and landscape which Pearl S. Buck would gaze upon as she entered her office in the Cottage wing.

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Posted by: PearlSBuckHouse | 05/08/2012

Exposing the Beams: April 16 – 30, 2012

By the end of April, 2012 visitors to the Pearl S. Buck House were able to see the exterior work begin to shift from a dismantling, excavation, and slate roof removal phase to one of restoration where all surfaces from the ground level to the tops of the chimneys began to come back together.

At the northeast corner of the House, the stone pavers were re-set and re-pointed enabling a smooth transition from where the new cement walkway meets the pavers.Image

The flagstones of the upper terrace have begun to be fully re-set and re-pointed. 

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At the lower terrace, the southern planter walls and the basement access walls were re-pointed and work to install a sump pump in the basement interior corner of the same stairwell got underway.

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The contractors involved with this phase of restoration work have been incredibly cooperative with our daily tours and at times they had to cease what they were doing so visitors could hear their docent’s interpretation of the interior rooms of the House. 

Work to restore the lower flagstone terrace was also underway and you can just imagine how heavy the stones are as evidenced by this photo, where the contractors are using a steel beam and pulley system to lower the stones into place. 

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The upper and lower tiers are now connected by a newly restored set of stairs, increasing visitor safety as the height of the stair treads were made the same and stabilized by a reinforced concrete sub-base under each stair tread.  Once the new railings are installed the overall results will be just stunning in comparison to the prior conditions of these stairs.

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Credit: Wu & Associates

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Credit: Wu & Associates

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The slate roof over the Mud Room roof and the Richard Walsh Bedroom was installed, as well as new copper ridge vents, flashing and two rows of snow guards.  Once the exterior wood siding is reinstalled at the dormers and sealant installed at all new flashing locations, these sections of the roof will be finished. 

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The northern and southeast/southwest exposure of the Small Library slate roofs were completed and new copper flashing, ridge vent and snow guards were installed.

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The newly fabricated second floor window and window sill located on the northeastern side of the home, providing daylight into the former children’s bathing room were installed, along with new copper flashing contributing to greater flow of water run-off.

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Once the new window is painted, these interior renovations to the Yellow Bathroom window will be virtually unnoticeable to visitors as the window will appear intact as if it has always been the smaller size opening.

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All four of the chimneys of the House and one located in the Cottage wing are receiving much needed attention.  In order to properly install new chimney caps, the old mortar will be replaced with new prior to installation of the caps. Undertaking this work may require nerves of steel unless one is comfortable at working at such heights.

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Credit: Wu & Associates

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The stone pavers and steps which run in front of the northern terrace and along the edge of the award-winning pond installed by Pearl S. Buck will be re-set and re-pointed further enhancing visitors’ safety and enjoyment as they tour the beautiful floral and water gardens and foliage.

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It appears that the discovery of hidden treasures is coming to an end, as during this period of work only a few additional pieces of pottery were found.

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Posted by: PearlSBuckHouse | 04/18/2012

Exposing the Beams: April 1 – 15, 2012

As of mid April 2012, our scheduled exterior restoration work is right on target thanks in part to a very mild winter and virtually rain-free spring. The cement walkway was installed alongside the west end of the House; in front of the large picture window of the kitchen.

All exterior terra-cotta drainage pipes connected to the House at various points within the upper and lower flagstone terraces were removed and a new pipe designed for gravity flow drainage applications was installed.  A few of the former downspout boots were replaced as well to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the drainage system.

The subsurface of the upper terrace was closed back up, leveled off with stones, and a cement base was poured whereby increasing future stability of the flagstones once reinstalled and pointed.  You will see the cement subsurface has been encoded with blue letters which correspond to the quadrants of flagstones which were carefully catalogued prior to removal.

As a result of ongoing water infiltration issues, several sections of the slate roof of the Pearl S. Buck House were identified for full replacement. The slate roof covering the Mud Room located at the southwestern end of the House was removed and ice and water shield will be installed prior to the application of a new slate roof.

The northern exposure of the Small Library roof also had its slate removed, and ice and water shield and underlayment installed prior to the application of new copper flashing and slate roof.

The northern terrace, which once supported the Walsh family’s access to the House through the Foyer doorway, was re-pointed to enhance visitors’ experiences as they tour the beautiful gardens, foliage and award winning pond installed by Pearl S. Buck.

A second floor window located on the northeastern side of the home, providing daylight into the former children’s bathing room, referred to as the Yellow Bathroom was removed in preparation for a modification to the structure.  The proximity of the window to the slate roof over the first floor Living Room did not allow for adequate flashing to be installed where this window met the roof line.  As a result, water infiltration has plagued this area of the home and negatively impacted the custom built phonograph storage cabinet located in the northeastern corner of the living room.  The cabinet will be restored during Part B of this project.  In addition, one of Pearl S. Buck’s tiehua (iron strip hammered sculpture that originated in the Wuhu province of China) which once hung in this corner was also damaged by water infiltration and is now stored in our archives awaiting restoration when funding becomes available.

Photo Credit: Wu & Associates

A smaller window opening will be created and a new window will be installed, allowing for proper flashing and water run-off.  The renovations to the Yellow Bathroom window will be virtually unnoticeable to visitors as the interior finishes of the window sill will be reframed and the built-in cabinetry will remain intact to the period of the Walsh family’s occupancy.

During this period of work additional artifacts were unearthed and included a toy car with rubber wheels and dark blue plastic side runners, since identified as a 1931 Plymouth Chrysler Convertible produced by Tonka toys circa 1972.  The car was seemingly tucked away, perhaps to be unearthed in the future, behind a stone in a low masonry garden wall of the upper terrace.  The former debris pit located in the lower terrace revealed more treasures as follows: additional pottery shards, broken glass, a glass lid with raised letters of Whitehall’s Patent June 18th, 1861 was found and determined to be a canning jar lid missing the side iron clamps and glass carafe type base; a Pearl tip stainless steel hat pin and a commemorative spoon from Bunker Hill Memorial, noting the battle date, 1775 Bunker Hill on the spoon shaft.  The spoon appears to be brass under a layer of silver color wash.  Additional information is being sought from spoon collectors as no makers’ markings were found. We continue to encourage you to return to the virtual exhibit to see what other treasures may surface.

Posted by: PearlSBuckHouse | 03/30/2012

Exposing the Beams: April 2010-March 2012

Although our virtual exhibit has been on hiatus over the last two years, rest assured our efforts to care for the Pearl S. Buck House and its collections, while meeting the needs of our visitors has continued in earnest.

Since April of 2010, our new Welcome Center, Awards Room, and International Gift Shop have generated very positive feedback from all visitors who continue to be warmly greeted by staff and volunteers at the new tour desk and gift shop sales counter.

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Accessibility to the Welcome Center is available twelve months out of the year and allows Pearl S. Buck’s awards to be on exhibit in the new Awards Room year round. This change ensures all visitors have an opportunity to take time to explore and view the awards and to get a glimpse into the life of Pearl Buck regardless if the house is open or closed, typically during the months of January – February.

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The selection of merchandise available in the gift shop is updated regularly and sales have continued to surpass prior years when the gift shop was formerly located in the Cultural Center and closed two months out of the calendar year.

The gift shop is open for sales from 9am to 5pm weekdays, 11:00am to 4pm Saturdays, and Noon to 4pm on Sundays.  Stop by and see for yourself why the gift shop is quickly becoming known as one of the finest in Bucks County.  The former gift shop was transitioned into a multi-purpose room for use as meeting space and designated as a bridal suite for wedding rental clientele at the Pearl S. Buck House.

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The Welcome Center renovations also included installation of four of the eight stained glass panels acquired in August, 2007 from the owner of Delancey Place, the former office location of the foundation in Philadelphia,where the panels were originally installed by Pearl S. Buck.  The panels include a personalized etched glass representative of her Chinese chop that translates into “precious gem silk knitter”.

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Visitors to the Welcome Center are also enjoying the permanent display of a Pearl S. Buck timeline which was unveiled in September 2010.  The timeline depicts Pearl S. Buck’s life in line with world events and is introducing visitors to major milestones in the life of Pearl S. Buck prior to their scheduled tour.  Installation of this timeline was made possible through a grant from the Bucks County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Glass doors were added in between the new Gift Shop and the administrative offices of Pearl S. Buck International affording visitors an opportunity to see how the living legacy of Pearl S. Buck continues to be carried out by staff.

A meeting with the architectural firm who wrote our Historic Structures Report and coordinated both Phase I and Phase II projects, was held to determine what restoration work remained and of that work, which items were now a priority. As a result of the discussion, it was determined that raising funds for Phase III would not progress until remaining water infiltration issues impacting the House were remedied. This photo demonstrates the impact of an active leak inside the closet of the small library of the Pearl S. Buck House. This leak will be stopped once and for all when the copper flashing surrounding the chimney and the slate room of the small library are replaced.

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Staff met with preservation contractors and architectural firms to determine the best course of action and to secure projected costs for eliminating the water infiltration. At the time, Pearl S. Buck International’s facilities administrator conducted research and a thorough review of the House and prepared two reports. One reviewed the water infiltration issues and the second addressed the interior finishes identifying which items could be handled by staff and which areas would require outside professionals.  All parties involved agreed on next steps in terms of addressing the water infiltration issues and it was a relief to know that a complete re-roofing of the House was not needed.

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Staff presented a plan of action to the Board in September 2010 that included recommended solutions and timelines for implementing measures that were financially manageable during the months of January and February of 2011 when the House was closed. However, prior to the December 2010 board meeting, we received fantastic news that a Commonwealth of PA Senate appropriated Redevelopment Assistance Capital grant of $780,000 was forthcoming for the last phase of the capital campaign. Given the grant would require matching funds, the plans for addressing water infiltration, and interior finishes were postponed. Staff quickly shifted gears towards developing strategies for fundraising as the third and final phase of the preservation project was projected to cost approximately $1.6 million. You can help us reach our fundraising goal by contributing to the Capital Campaign via our website at www.psbi.org/capitalcampaign.

As of March 1, 2012 Phase III is now underway and scheduled to proceed in two separate and distinct timeframes, in order for us to maintain operations to the greatest extent possible. Period A consists of exterior work including slate roof repairs; removal, resetting and re-pointing the stone courtyard and rebuilding stone steps; repairs/installation of new hanging gutters and downspouts, as well as the  replacement of sub-surface drainage pipes. This work will be completed in May 2012, well before outdoor wedding season on the site is planned to begin. Safety fencing and a temporary roadway have been installed to help safeguard visitors and enable contractors to work efficiently.

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Photo Credit: Wu & Associates

Period B of Phase III consists of interior work including HVAC unit modifications, humidification and dehumidification adjustments, and upgrade of components as needed; complete rewiring of the house to meet code requirements, including rewiring of fixtures, and power devices; installation of UV storm windows; sealing off existing non-use plumbing fixtures; smoke detection system upgrades and the installation of active smoke detection air sampling sensors; replacing security system equipment and adding cameras along tour pathways; repair of wood trim, sills, built-in cabinets, wood flooring, plaster and gypsum wall board; repainting all painted surfaces. This work is scheduled to begin in February of 2013 with a completion date of May 31, 2013 which means the Pearl S. Buck House will be closed for an extended four-month period, reopening in July 2013.

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If you elect to tour the home during the week, you will see the exterior restoration work is progressing nicely.  The contractors began by carefully cataloging the two-tiered flagstone terrace on the south side of the home in preparation for temporary removal of the stones to allow for access to the underground drainage systems which will be replaced. The stones were segmented into quadrants by the use of chalk, then numbered, photographed, and cataloged prior to being lifted and placed onto pallets.  This methodical approach will enable the contractor to ensure the stones are all returned to their original positions, much like one would do when assembling a giant puzzle.

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Photo Credit: Wu & Associates

“The two glass doors open on the courtyard which in the summer is sort of an extra living room. It was grass once but the children muddied it, especially in the springtime, so we put in stone. There is a fountain there which has stood so many years that regularly its arms fall off in the winter but they are glued back on again by the gardener in the spring. This courtyard is a lovely place in the summertime. A peony terrace adds to its beauty”.

–Pearl S. Buck
Walking tour of Green Hills Farm 1972

As the family of Pearl S. Buck and her husband Richard J. Walsh grew, their home also expanded through numerous additions. The once grass courtyard was laid with stone and tiered to accommodate the changes in the home’s structure. The corresponding photographs show the pallets of stones in their temporary location.  The stones, some hundreds of pounds each were all original to the property. You will also notice several pieces of terracotta piping which has been excavated to make way for the new underground drainage system which will carry rainwater into a nearby creek.

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Indicative of a former debris pit, shards of pottery, glass and a white ceramic door knob have been found during these early stages of excavation work.

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The area in which these artifacts were discovered is adjacent to the oldest structure of the home, a pre-revolutionary cottage, which served as the office of Richard J. Walsh during the family’s period of occupancy.

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We encourage you to return to the virtual exhibit often to see what other treasures may surface.

The stone walkway to the west of the House, running alongside the large picture window of the kitchen will be updated to match the cement walkway installed during Phase I of the preservation project.  This change will further enhance visitor safety and support our goal of meeting the American with Disabilities Act. These stones will be repurposed and replace stones which are deemed too brittle to be put back into the terrace, terrace steps, or the planter bed retaining walls.

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Posted by: PearlSBuckHouse | 04/09/2010

Preparing for Personal Pearl!

The restoration process of Phase II of the Project for Historical Preservation has drawn to a close. Pearl S. Buck International staff and volunteers have been working hard to unpack and replace all of the furniture and artifacts of the Pearl S. Buck House into their proper places in time for the opening of the Personal Pearl exhibit on Tuesday, April 13.

All are welcome to visit the Personal Pearl exhibit, which displays the author’s clothing and accessories documented with photographs. In addition, visitors will view special, first-time displays of items that Ms. Buck’s family used when spending time together.

With the opening of the exhibit, the Pearl S. Buck International office building on the property will now include a brand-new Welcome Center and International Gift Shop. The public will now begin the tour at the new Welcome Center. Visit http://www.psbi.org/exhibit for tour times and more information about Personal Pearl.

Thank you for your readership during this special Virtual Exhibit. Please return to http://www.pearlsbuckhouse.wordpress.com on the first of each month to learn about a new Featured Artifact of the Pearl S. Buck House, as well as other fascinating news and important updates!

Posted by: PearlSBuckHouse | 03/26/2010

Pouring the Epoxy

As noted in our previous posting, the first floor summer beam supporting the second floor of Pearl Buck’s bedroom has been well-prepared for the much-anticipated application of the Wood Epoxy Reinforcement (WER) system.   The two steel plates rest between the outer edge of the routed-out summer beam and a board which runs down the middle.  In preparation for the pouring of the epoxy, a temporary protective channel comprised of aluminum coil was added along both sides of the upper edge of the summer beam.  This channel, combined with the pouring trays, is meant to help to protect the room from overflow, drips, or leaks.

A light is slowly moved over top of the span to allow team members positioned on the first floor to identify any obvious gaps or natural checking in the summer beam where the light is breeching through. Additional plasticine is applied to prevent the epoxy from leaking.

The team guides and pours the epoxy into the prepared openings.

Two team members wear protective hazmat (hazardous materials) clothing. They are situated in the living room on the first floor below the pour area to promptly address leaks or drips during the pour process.

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