R.D. Wolff

The Building

The Building

My building, purchased in the fall of 2012 is the not for profit Wolff sculpture gallery and museum. This page will contain the story and lots of photos pertaining to the building's previous "as bought" condition, some history, and progress photos and text covering the gradual renovation into the new gallery space. Starting early on with the purchase, the page will have the newest/latest material at the end, so scroll to the end for the most current.

The first couple of photos below show the exterior, and the front half of the interior as they were on the day of closing. The second photo shows a partition wall which was 42 feet from the front windows which divided the space into a front half and a dark dungeon-like hovel in the then windowless, almost lightless space in back. Behind the partition the floor is new linoleum which will work out for planned sculpture classes and more.

The forward half floor was old linoleum and it looks like there was once carpeting over it. I had once entertained scraping and sanding to the original wood floor, but this is just too much to do, and the old linoleum likely has asbestos in it, so I am leaving it alone, re-sheeting it with 5/8" CDX, and then hopefully some oak parquet flooring will be laid down as the solution to get a good looking, easy clean floor.

The new framed window sign I made to hang in the front window, difficult to get a good photo due to the reflection from the glass. I also have a replacement print on the way which corrects the lower case "m" in museum, and sharpens up the text better. The photo doesn't do justice to the deep rich colors I used for the background image.

A view from inside looking towards the front, a lot of space, a lot of work to do. But today, after two days of work and five gallons of paint, I painted the two walls 42 feet back, yet they seem to need a third coat of paint to finally cover that horrible DARK PURPLE paint there. The color is a pale chiffon yellow, and the ceiling will be bright white.

I could never fathom how someone would select a dark paint like the dark green or dark purple in this building- for a space that needs every bit of brightness it can get in the rear! Dark seasick GREEN, and then purple! what was someone thinking? Here's a photo of the rear area behind the partition which has the new linoleum floor, what a dark depressing space due to that seasick green paint! The doorway under the mezanine goes to the restroom and the basement, I found both of the original Art Deco styled wood doors in good condition, with the original nickel plated hardware in the basement, needing only a little trimming on the bottom, one was returned to it's proper location today after trimming. Just watch how this space looks with new paint. The partition wall will come out, it's useless.

I also removed part of the interior panel/sheetrock over the windows to reveal a row of six semi opaque original windows extending to the ceiling, and I removed some of the exterior barnboard covering the West pillar to reveal that the original facade was made with very high quality hard brick, and that special shaped bricks were used to form a border, along with alternating colors.

The tin ceiling is in good shape other than a couple of minor spots, and some suspended ceiling hangars since it once had a suspended ceiling- I'm glad THAT is gone!

Happily, I discovered the rear window which had been boarded over on the outside, was unobstructed by the adjacent building, and could be used, so I cut the opening out of the barnboard sheathing on the outside to reveal this 36 x 42 window. It allows a considerable amount of sunlight in the rear area and mezzanine now. I also discovered a second covered-over window on the South wall but it will be left as is for the time being. I really like the somber mood of this picture with the soft light coming in through the window, the green wall and cream colored tin cornice contrasting.

And today, 9/9/2012 with the last of the partition dividing wall gone for good, the whole space is opened up to the rear mezzazine/office. With that partition wall there and the rear window boarded over, and that seasick green everywhere- the rear space had to have been like a dark, depressing, windowless dungeon!

The original wood floor from the front to 42 feet back where there is a new floor with new linoleum- is under two layers of old decrepid linoleum and carpet adhesive, due to the age of the linoleum making it highly probable they have asbestos, plus the fact the wood is not likely to be in great condition, I decided to leave well enough alone and refloor over this 20 x 42 area with underlayment and oak parque. It will take 26 sheets of underlayment to cover this area.

Replacing the entry door and the panels under the windows phase won't happen for a while, but I would be working on the design, and making the appropriate components, including the two doors to prepare for installing them in the spring, but one thing for sure- that ugly "drug store" door has GOT to go!!!

I borrowed scaffolding and put it up by myself, then I spent about seven hours removing the barnboard facade covering, I got 98% of it off and by then it was getting dark, my back was sore and I was hungry, thirsty and tired. After cleaning up the sidewalk I called it a day. It doesn't look like a very tall building, but amazingly it took three red sections of scaffold plus one more to reach the cornice- about 23 feet up. I had to put another section of scaffold up so I would have something secure around me while standing on the platform, it's alot higher off the sidewalk when standing up there than it might seem looking up from across the street where the photo was taken from!

The facade is pretty nice, and not far off from what I suspected it would look like for the era.
The roof overhang turned out to be a fairly easy one to deal with, I found the whole barnboard facade assembly was simply cantlevered over the parapet wall with 2x6s suspending 2x4s and attached with plywood plates nailed and glued. Treated lumber forming the cornice, both anchoring the roof to the capstone so wind can't tear off the PVC fabric/membrane, and closing it all back up weather tight. Some of the 2x4 supporting members holding the barnboard facade coverup were rotted, it all would have had to have been removed at some point anyway.

The cornice is primed and painted, and all the added on junk removed. Evidence of a wood or metal cornice with a copper top or an all sheet copper cornice was found above the display windows and door, below the 6 transom windows, whatever it was, it was removed long ago- leaving the bare boards behind it. For now I painted the exposed face board, and plan to construct a cornice to go back up there. I think the newly revealed original facade is very nice, it was buried under redwood siding for about 40 years I'm told.

Now that we are into October, things have progressed well, hoping this weekend the scrap collector guy will stop by so I can finally get rid of the damnable pile of junk filing cabinets and old fluorescent lamps! The walls are pretty well finished for painting, it took ten gallons, and last weekend I started on the ceiling. Unfortunately the local hardware doesn't have much oil paint, so I had to drive to Menards to get four gallons of flat white oil paint, oil because of the tin ceiling. I also brought back misc items, six sheets of plywood for the floor and a new double hung, argon, double glass vinyl window for the rear.

Some more photos, of the floor going in, new window, ceiling paint, just look at that classic design too! I found a couple of tin ceiling makers who have this exact same square coffer panel design in stock, but I haven't found the same cornice or the section with the double festoon design and I need to replace a couple of pieces. The cornce section will be a pale green color for contrast once I find a source for the oil paint.

I now need 20 more sheets of 5/8 CDX, they run $15 a sheet now at Menards. The ceiling is a chore even with a roller, and this one is 20 feet by 96 feet, almost 2,000 square feet, thankfully the paint covers with ONE coat! But it's a lot of up and down on the ladder as one can only reach so far before having to move the ladder. I now have the ceiling painted close to one half the way back, the cornice will be painted a contrasting color.

An interesting read there is on the building's abstracts which my attorney and adjacent building owner kindly loaned me his copies of as the two buildings were connected together, and he once owned both, so his abstracts contain records for both. I never got the old typed out records, so this was good reading! I figured the building was built between about 1900 and 1911, since before 1900 the records showing various warrantee deed and other transactions and taxes were for low amounts such as $150. Then the 1912 entry shows this will information which specifically mentions "my brick store"

The ceiling is all painted except for the couple of spots that need replacement pieces of tin. A couple of photos from October 28th, 2012 after mounting a number of sculptures on the walls to start with.

And the new oak railings and newel posts I made recently, the posts have not been stained yet in this view.

I finally have the ceiling and walls painted after I installed the four sections of tin on the ceiling that replaced four damaged pieces, after some difficulty with two of them due to not having a place to nail them up to along one edge, I got them all installed, caulked, primed and painted. That leaves now five cornice sections to replace five missing pieces, and three ceiling pieces to replace one that is damaged, and two others that were cut out for a flue pipe and attic access. Once I order those pieces soon and get them up and painted it will finally be finished!

So now that will leave some lighting and the parquet floor to do yet, and the mortar pointing and entry changes which won't happen till spring, I won't have much else to work on between now and then.

The big problem now is I learned Menards no longer carries the prefinished oak parque floor tiles I counted on getting for the floor, they used to have them for about 89 cents a square foot which is cheaper than carpet even, but they told me they no longer carry it. So now I don't know what to do about the floor that is affordable, but will research this winter.

And now in July 2013, I found time to rust treat, prime and paint the exposed flange of the horizontal steel support beam, and repoint the brickwork infill of it where the mortar had been previously poorly done.


The new wood sign over the door I made:

Website design by R.D. Wolff