RK Does Historic Buildings
Tower Grove Park
The first two photos show the interior and exterior of the Piper Palm House, along with an artist’s rendering of the Palm House interior and a hand-drawn map of its part of the park. In 1997 we put a kitchen & restroom addition on the back and restored the interior into the gorgeous event space it is now; the wood ceiling was repaired, native Missouri limestone slabs (2” thick and 36” square) were mudset for a floor meant to last many decades, and custom made brass lanterns were built and hung as shown.
The third photo shows the Pool Pavilion after a historically accurate re-painting; work included masonry and wood repairs along with bathroom improvements including graffiti removal and a special sealer to make cleaning off future graffiti easy. The fourth photo shows the Old Playground pavilion, which had extensive renovations along with several other pavilions. Its revival was comprehensive as we had to replace the rotted old metal roofing with new lead-coated copper (the lead allows paint to adhere), replace all the brick paving, repair and paint various wood columns and other pieces, and completely re-make the cupola. We built the replacement cupola, as we did everything in the Park, at the direction of noted historical restoration architect Philip Cotton; we used the African hardwood ipe for some repairs and old growth, all-heart, clear red cypress for the rest (the cypress came from logs cut in the 1800s but lost in swamps, then recovered in modern times).
Wabash Delmar Train Station
Restored to life in 1983 for a lighting rep, this project saved one of the busiest train stations in St. Louis at the eastern end of the Loop. The roof had gaping holes in it and much of the original plaster, stone, and wood trim had to be replaced or restored.
It was built as a theater in Greenville IL in 1909 and then torn out and turned into a resale shop years later; we were given the job to re-build the first and second floor which had been removed decades before, and put three movie screens back in along with a café upstairs. The original cast iron storefront structure was kept and cleaned up; when we started demolition we found the single massive wood post in the basement which supported the front of the 2nd and 3rd floors and roof had been badly weakened by termites and was very near collapse.
We installed emergency shoring systems while the engineers made the necessary design changes, which took five weeks (see the local newspaper article below). After getting the revised design we carefully dug out footings and plumbing trenches in the basement, and seemingly built a ‘ship in the bottle’! It was an awful lot of technically demanding, safety-first work to accomplish in a very small space.
Due to the unexpected delay our schedule had to be tightened up considerably as the November completion date could not change. With the complexity of the project, which included filling much of the basement with granular rock so we could pour a concrete slab for the theaters, plus complicated walls and ceilings needed for acoustical dampening, we had a huge task on our hands. However by close coordination and just plain hard work we accomplished this formidable task in the nick of time and the Globe Theater screened “The Grinch” starring Jim Carrey on schedule (we were given snippets of the film at the grand opening party).
A postscript to the Globe story: one day that September two gentlemen casually dropped in to the bustling site and got an impromptu tour from Rich Robertson. It seems they were the President and Provost of Greenville College (now Greenville University) and later that year they invited us to bid on their upcoming dormitory project and we won the work—which is a great story of its own.