Lately, Thursdays have meant a weekly visit to our latest preservation project out at Glencoe—The Dye House. This building has been through the ringer. When I first visited it, I was told that it had been slated for demo by a previous developer, and I could understand why. Some sections of wall had completely collapsed, and there were other sections that looked like they could go at any minute.
When you head into a project like this, it’s best to focus on the building’s strengths instead of getting overwhelmed by anxiety about its weaknesses. And, truly, it has many strengths–high timber ceilings, tremendous open space, large windows, masonry walls, and a back courtyard area that overlooks the mill race. I’ve seen herons, beavers, turtles, and even a prothonotary warbler in my visits out there, and the sight of the flowing water never fails to soothe. Now when we visit, we see masons and carpenters fixing the building and putting her back together. I have to admit that the first time I saw an original repaired window being installed, I got a bit teary.
On Thursdays, we gather around the make-shift work table with the general contractor and engineers, pouring over plans, and discussing solutions to the problems that pop up on a daily basis—the kinds of problems that we can’t anticipate. They simply make themselves known as we peel away the old layers of rotten materials. They aren’t all problems though. Sometimes we find treasures like an inscription in some concrete from 1949. So many ups and downs in a project like this, but we focus on the strengths–like the fact that we got a new roof structure this week.
This Thanksgiving, we are thankful for the wonderfully creative and brave group of people working on this building, bringing it back so it can be used as an environmental education center.