Pequot Library, Southport, Connecticut
Cast Iron Restoration at the Pequot Library: The Library Stacks
One of the outstanding qualities of late nineteenth century architecture was the architects’ attention to detail. While most libraries’ stacks are simply functional, architect Robert Robertson’s stacks at The Pequot celebrate of the beauty of knowledge. As you will see in our process of cast iron restoration at the Pequot Library, each shelf is supported by exquisite cast iron structures. Each row then framed by fanciful columns; the stairways linking the wing’s two stories are made with balusters of garlands and vines in copper plated cast iron, all in the eclectic style of the period.
During a century of quiet aging, the stacks’ detailing had become almost invisible. While they were originally lit by coal gas, and heated by firewood, a fine layer of carbon was deposited on the polished copper. This was not unlike that which covered the ceiling of Rome’s Sistine Chapel. In the heat and humidity of New England summers, rust had its way too. And, the physical activity in the stacks took its inevitable toll – parts of the delicate casts were fractured, and some, over time, lost. In the enthusiasm to convert to new, safer and cleaner electric lighting in the first decades of the 20th Century, the columns were drilled out to accommodate hastily installed switches.
To understand the magnitude of the cast Iron restoration at the Pequot Library, Newmans, Ltd. calculated that:
- There are over 6,000 metal parts, each of which needs to be individually treated.
- If placed end to end, starting at the New York Public Library at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, the last piece would be beyond the Museum of the City of New York, at 102nd Street.
The following icons link to pages detailing other aspects of the project.