This hand-colored photograph from the Longyear Museum collection shows the fountain as it would have looked at Pleasant View around the turn of the 20th century. It was in clear view of Mary Baker Eddy’s study, located on the second floor of the “tower” to the rear of the house.
Conservators, specialists in the care of art objects, spent quite a few days gently removing any loose coating material to reveal the base metal surfaces — all in preparation for applying a primer coat, two coats of industrial-duty black paint, and lastly a glaze coat that gives the appearance of bronze, likely the appearance it had when at Pleasant View. The fountain was last conserved about 10 years ago, after it had been moved from the former Longyear Museum grounds.
This photograph is clear evidence of how years of water splashing the surfaces, and effects of expansion and contraction of the various materials in hot and cold weather conditions, had caused the coatings to crack, loosen and flake off.
There was some use of power tools, but most of the stripping work was painstakingly accomplished by hand in order to best preserve the original detail.
All loose material removed, and any tendency toward rusting treated and arrested, the fountain is ready for its primer coating. Here you can see that the “bronzed” underside of the top bowl was intact from its previous conservation, and didn’t need stripping. Good news to the conservators, and to us!
After many days and hours of intricate work, the preparation is complete and the fountain is ready for its first coat of shiny black paint, industrial grade in order to withstand being exposed to the extremes of outdoor elements.
It is autumn in New England — winds are blowing and leaves are beginning to fall. A canopy was constructed by Longyear Museum staff to protect the freshly painted surfaces during the curing process. Here you can see the conservator applying the paint carefully so as to get the right amount of coverage without obscuring the magnificent details.
With an unexpected snowfall in late October and surprisingly winter-like temperatures, it was decided to wait until the warmer days of spring 2012 to complete the project — to apply the final coat of black paint and the bronzing finish. We are so glad we got this far with the project and that all vulnerable surfaces have been addressed. A special breathable wrapping will soon be added to further protect the fountain during winter months.
This photograph shows the fountain in its location on the grounds of the new museum after it was last conserved, about 10 years ago. This should be its appearance once again after the work is completed in spring 2012.
In order to better preserve the finish and extend the maintenance cycle, a coat of wax will be applied and renewed on a regular basis.
When the stately granite entry arch was moved about ten years ago from its former Longyear Museum location to its present spot, it was completely dismantled and carefully reconstructed — piece by piece, with all new mortar and new structural measures to assure its strength and longevity.
How surprising then to find that what appeared to be a few little green stains — algae and moss — could actually break down the granite and mortar if not removed and kept in check. Accordingly, close-growing shrubbery and trees were cut back to allow for more sunlight and air circulation to reach all the surfaces, and conservators were brought in to do the special cleaning.
As part of the cleaning, conservators removed mineral deposits that had resulted from moisture getting in at the top and finding its way out further down the columns. Similar in composition to stalactites and stalagmites in caves where there is moisture dripping through stone, these mineral deposits took the form of very hard, white, smooth flat patches. To remedy this infiltration, masons re-pointed upper areas of the arch.
Even though the iron gates have been carefully coated many times over the years, being outdoors in the weather eventually breaks down the layers of protection, allowing moisture to get in, and the iron begins deteriorating. To combat this tendency, the gates were removed and stripped of paint. Rust spots were repaired, and small areas of missing detail replaced.
The design details are now so much easier to see, and the newly-applied paint is bonded right onto the metal surface — not just onto other paint layers that have chipped and broken over the years.
It was no easy feat re-installing the newly-repaired and painted gates — it took hours, and lots of expertise!
Here is the back side of the newly-conserved, very handsome entry arch and gates that would have welcomed visitors to Mrs. Eddy’s home.
This hand-colored photo was taken while Mrs. Eddy was in residence at Pleasant View, during the years 1892-1908.