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Restoration of the Old Naval Hospital

Update - January 2, 2006

What Is Happening Under The Shrouds?

The large white shrouds that you see in these photos, surrounding the scaffolding on the south facade of the Old Naval Hospital, have now been there for a few weeks. If you walk past during working hours you will hear mechanical noises and note that someone is working behind the shrouds.

The workers are scraping the paint from the frames of the windows. The window sashes themselves have been carefully disassembled and removed. After the paint is removed from the frames, the workers are very carefully sanding the frames in place, and then repairing them with epoxy, filling all the holes and dents and depressions caused by the long years of use. After that work is completed, they will prime paint all the surfaces. That will then prepare them for the replacement of the repaired and restored window sashes.

The window sashes were removed from the frames and taken indoors in the Old Naval Hospital. All restoration of the intact window sashes is being done on site. The sashes which were destroyed by the installation of air conditioning units, are being refabricated off site, and will be done to the original specifications.

After the intact sashes are brought into the basement of the Old Naval Hospital, each glass pane is removed and numbered so that it can later be replaced in exactly the same sash and window frame from which it is removed.

In doing this work, it was noted that some of the window panes appeared to be very old, since they were apparently manufactured from spun glass. Glass panes in the day of the construction of the Old Naval Hospital were often made by blowing glass into large bubbles, then spinning them and forming the bottom of the bubble into a flat plane from which a pane would be cut. These panes have a characteristic circular imprint in the glass.

After the panes are removed and catalogued, the window sash frames are put into a steam box machine and are steamed for a predetermined period of time. After that time is up, the sash is removed and the paint is relatively easily stripped from the wood. This process leaves a very clean wood frame sash.

Then the sash is minutely sanded to smooth all surfaces and to remove any remaining residue from the paint. Epoxy filler was then applied as necessary to bring the sash to its original form and smoothness.

That final process prepares the sash for applying a primary coat of paint. The window is now in the shape it was when it was first installed in the building. All that remains is to apply the final coats of paint in the original color to complete the restoration of the sash.

Paint samples are still being analyzed to determine the exact composition and color of the original paint on the windows. The considerable wear and tear over the years of these exposed windows is causing some difficulty in determining the original colors.

The window panes will then be cleaned and installed back into their original sash. The sash will be later reinstalled in the window frame, after the repair and restoration is completed on the weights and lines for the counter weights in the windows. That, however, will be a topic to be covered later.

This site is sponsored by the Friends of the Old Naval Hospital

Last updated November 15, 2008