About Town: Stone Building Transformation
A summer transformation.
If you haven’t noticed the ever-changing look of the Stone Building’s exterior then you haven't driven along Massachusetts Avenue in East Lexington.
During the first few weeks of June, the aged, peeling and cracked building looked worn and tired. By mid-month the paint was off part of the building and raw wood peeked through. A few weeks ago, the entire building had finally shed layers and layers of paint -- and time.
The other day, I noticed it miraculously sported a new cream color, one that turned the 178-year-old building into something pristine and new, which means the primer must have gone on just a day or two before I passed.
This historic structure, built by Eli Robbins in 1833, was erected as a lyceum, where many gave lectures, the most notable, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Although the transformation didn’t occur overnight, it certainly seems so. That prompted me to call our Director of Public Facilities Patrick Goddard and pepper him with questions.
Since Project Manager Mark Barrett was also involved, we decided to meet yesterday in Patrick’s office at the Samuel Hadley Public Services Building.
Mark told me work, done by Greenleaf Contractors of Medford, started in mid-June and it's almost finished -- or will be in a few days. I know that’s true. Coming home from Arlington, I noticed the dark trim was already applied.
The difference between what was there in May and what’s there now is incredible.
It’s stunning – and I urge you to drive or walk past. There may be a reason it looks so good. The workers stripped away 19 to 20 generations of paint before finally hitting wood.
“The clapboard was in much better shape than we expected,” Patrick said.
No one knows how many layers were on the building because aluminum siding was attached in 1964. (Where were our historians when that occurred?)
Mark and Patrick said they were able to identify the color from the 1850s, which were Jewett white, a lovely beige cream and Sayward Pine, a green that’s so dark it’s almost black.
The building’s future use hasn’t been determined yet, but the Library Trustees are looking at different options, Patrick said.
I'm sure we'll have more than a few meetings before that's decided.
It's worth noting that during these short summer months they also replaced the roof, the copper flashing, repointed the brick and stone and repaired the wood gutters. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few steps. Either way, the amount of work done in 10 weeks is impressive.
The bill of $178,000 was picked up with Community Preservation Act funds.
Again, I urge you to drive by the newly restored Stone Building’s exterior. Then download the report by Menders, Torrey & Spencer, with so much history and visuals included in the report it's interesting and informative. You'll learn a lot of Lexington folks worked on this project.
Most notably: Anne Grady, was our architectural historian, Town Historian Richard Kollen, Faith Ferguson, Elaine and Sam Doran helped with the project.