One of the toughest aspects of running a business in an historic building involves repairs. They just don’t make things the same in 2009 as they did in 1860! Do we try to repair the existing plaster or remove it and replace with gyprock? Do we pay someone to custom fabricate wooden trim pieces in sizes no longer available or cobble something together that looks “almost” the same as the old stuff? You get the picture…every repair involves consideration, debate and lots more cash than expected. And there are lots of repairs!
When you walk in the front door of Maplethorpe, you enter a small foyer. It is seperated from the rest of the house by huge French doors–about 8 feet tall. They are beautiful, but one would hardly notice them because they have always been propped open. This is because of the glass, or lack of glass, in the doors.
When we bought the place, one door had pieces of etched glass, broken but duct-taped in place. The other door was without any glass, just a giant hole. For safety’s sake we removed the broken glass and filled each door panel with a custom-cut piece of clear glass. We never really liked the clear glass and it didn’t take long for one window panel to get cracked, so we were back to one giant hole and one clear glass door. The place where we bought the oversized pieces of clear glass no longer sells glass retail. S0, we propped the doors open and tried not to look at them while we wondered what to do.
Jim to the rescue!
During one of his winters spent teaching high school math in Las Vegas, out of boredom he took a class in creating stained glass. By golly, he learned a few things! Over the summer he created a design, determined his color-scheme, and bought the glass he needed to make stained glass panels for the doors. Then he locked himself in the garage. We didn’t see him for weeks.
Then on July 1, out he came from his workshop, carrying the new window panels. They are beautiful! We are now enjoying closing the doors and letting colored light stream into the hallway. I think even Major Wright, original builder and first occupant of Maplethorpe, would be proud.