This talk is part of the Fountain Fundamentals Conference, July 10-11, 2013, Kansas City, MO.
Rehabilitation of Shippensburg University’s Old Main Fountain by Gabriel W. Harrison and T. Scott Kreilick
Cast iron fountains are very susceptible to corrosion in their aqueous environments. Due to the high level of maintenance these fountains can require, they often fall into disrepair. Such was the state of the subject of this restoration: The “Old Main” Fountain. Fabricated by J.W. Fiske, the “Old Main” fountain was given to Shippensburg University as a parting gift of the graduating class of 1896. It was dedicated during Class Day Exercises on June 30, 1896, where “speeches were given, poems were read and class songs were sung.”
The multi-tiered cast iron fountain has functioned as the centerpiece of the historic Shippensburg University since its erection 115 years prior to this conservation effort. Previous restorations and multiple layers of over-painting, however well intentioned, had obscured sculptural detail and exacerbated dangerous conditions, the worst being catastrophic cracks found in the ironwork, which were repaired during treatment. Also, the masonry pool walls had developed cracks and pool water was being lost to leakage.
The project entailed a total rebuild of the fountain, including new concrete footing, pool floor and walls, waterproofing, and disassembly and re-assembly of over 80 cast iron elements that make up the ornate Victorian piece. The conservation treatment undertaken was designed to stabilize the cast iron elements and provide them with a zinc-rich corrosion inhibitive coating system. The masonry pool was reconstructed and updates were made to the plumbing technology replacing outdated and corroded iron pipes with PVC, adding a new intelligent pump system, and integrating modern water filtration and treatment to minimize biological and chemical attacks that work against the preservation effort. Also, limited historic data including black and white photograph plates and news articles indicated the original appearance of the fountain. Optical microscopy was used to discover paint colors from harvested samples in order to restore the Victorian paint scheme originally meant to define the historic gem of the Shippensburg University campus.
After conservation, the fountain stood fully restored in its original placement in front of the University’s main building, and with its original color scheme. Damaged or corroded iron and masonry elements fully repaired, the lavish fountain boasted completely leak free operation, as originally intended.
Gabriel W. Harrison
Prior to enjoying his current position as Senior Conservator at Kreilick Conservation LLC, Gabriel maintained his own private conservation practice, consulting and executing outdoor sculpture conservation projects. Some of his work included historic metals conservation for the Winnetka Cenotaph restoration, and architectural metal conservation for the Museum of Science and Industry, in Chicago. Gabriel began working as a conservator in 1997 with the Chicago Park District, and since then has contributed to over 50 significant sculpture conservation projects. He holds a BFA degree in sculpture from the Maryland Institute, College of Art, and is a longtime associate member of the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.
T. Scott Kreilick
T. Scott Kreilick is President, CEO, and Principal Conservator of Kreilick Conservation, LLC located in Oreland, PA. Kreilick is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. Kreilick earned his MS in Historic Preservation with a Specialization in Architectural Conservation; and his BA in the History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Established in 1996, Kreilick Conservation provides condition assessments, laboratory and field analysis of materials, emergency response and stabilization, treatment, documentation, and maintenance of architecture, monuments, sculpture, and objects; specializing in metals and stone. Kreilick Conservation, LLC has performed conservation treatments, assessments, or materials analysis at more than thirty (30) National Landmarks. The company has conserved more than 100 monuments and outdoor sculptures.