The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 13, 2009

$800,000 sought to fix Gleason

At the March 3 meeting of the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) the Trustees of the Gleason Public Library requested Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to repair water damage in the historic 113-year-old library building. Last year, at the request of the library trustees, the CPC recommended and Town Meeting

approved the appropriation of $40,000 to hire an architect and engineering firm to assess the cause of water damage and to provide a repair plan with cost estimates. This year, the trustees returned with a comprehensive repair plan and a request for $800,000 in community preservation funds to complete the work.

The engineering study found repairs are needed to the foundation, roof, exterior masonry walls and the windows of the library. A comprehensive solution was recommended for cost efficiency and to prevent further deterioration. However, alternatives including both phased renovation and temporary patches were also described.

Diagnostic results

With last year’s $40,000 appropriation, the library hired the architectural firm of Lerner, Ladds & Bartels, Inc. (LLB) which works closely with the engineering firm of Simpson, Gimperts & Heger, Inc.

In December and January, the engineering firm completed a variety of diagnostic tests. According to the official report, “Restoration and Repair of the Gleason Public Library Historic Building Envelope,” water infiltration is evident in a number of locations. In terms of the cause of the water damage, the report stated that the masonry in the historic portion of the building needs to be re-pointed, areas of the roof are in need of repair and “the grade surrounding the historic front portion of the building has been raised, trapping water against the existing foundation instead of sloping away.”


The architects divided the damages into four areas: basement/foundation, roof, masonry walls and windows. Each area was prioritized based on the severity of damage and on the effect of that area on the rest of the building (for example, windows would not be restored until the roof and leaking masonry were repaired). LLB recommends that the basement and foundation be addressed first, followed by the roof work, then the masonry wall repair and finally the window restoration.

Basement and foundation

The report states that the basement area “is of critical concern due to the obvious amount of water infiltration on a regular basis and also due to the potential effect of possible mold growth due to the high levels of humidity.” LLB recommends removal of interior basement perimeter walls to allow the foundation to dry and to determine the exact locations of most severe leakage. For the exterior, the recommendation is to excavate around the existing historic perimeter and to add waterproofing, insulation and a drainage system. In addition, LLB recommends that the landscape be re-graded to its historical level, below the windows, to reinforce the slope away from the building. The estimated cost of the basement and foundation repairs is $155,182.

According to the report, an interim solution would be to re-grade the landscaping to slope away from the foundation, install a temporary waterproof membrane and crushed stone at the base of the building, point the brick masonry between the band courses (horizontal lines near ground level) and cut the top of the concrete wall on the east side of the building so that it slopes away from the building. Estimated cost for this work is $66,712.


According to the report, it is time for a complete restoration of the 113-year-old roof, “The original roofing felts, separating the slates from the roof planking, have deteriorated virtually to dust. A number of slates are missing, dislodged and cracked. Although following repairs made during the 2000 addition project there has been little leaking, now is the time, prior to active problems, to seize the opportunity to restore the roof to last many more years.”

LLB recommends that the entire historic section of the building be re-roofed, re-using as much of the existing slate as possible. After the slates are removed, plywood will be added to the planking to cover any gaps, flashing will be replaced and a waterproof membrane will be placed over the entire roof. Estimated cost of roof repair and restoration is $315,214 to $349,935.

The library will have the slates tested to determine their remaining life span, and, based on these results, will recommend either re-roofing with the existing slates or replacing the slate.

A possible short-term stabilization of the roof would include repositioning the displaced slates, replacing cracked or missing slates, replacing seals and repairing the gutters. Although the estimated cost for this work is approximately $88,020, the report states that the town should plan on a comprehensive restoration of the roof within five years. According to Library Trustee Priscilla Stevens the library currently spends roughly $2,000 per year to patch leaks in the roof.

Masonry walls

One of the main reasons for the $40,000 damage assessment was to determine the cause of deterioration of the masonry walls. Mortar is visibly deteriorating or, in some spots, missing entirely and there is evidence of masonry damage near the windows resulting in water infiltration through these areas and damage to the wood-framed windows. According to LLB, “it does not appear that the entire building has been [re-pointed] for many years, if at all.” The LLB report notes that, “Certain areas, such as at the gable roof granite parapet, at the spandrel granite lintel over the windows and some of the lower face brick, are in critical need of re-setting and re-pointing.”

Although an interim course of action could be to re-point selected areas, LLB states that water infiltration on the interior indicates that this would be the best time to initiate a comprehensive restoration of the exterior masonry walls. LLB recommends re-pointing the entire historic exterior walls with special attention paid to areas at the granite lintels, sills and water table course (the granite line along the foundation). Estimated cost for this work is $137,886.

The interim approach in addressing the leaking masonry would be to address leakage at the gable wall area near the north windows and other areas that are found to contribute directly to leakage. The estimate for interim work is $64,931.


As an architecture firm, LLB notes that the historic windows are an integral part of defining the character of the library building. However, New England weather has taken its toll on the wooden-framed windows. The report states that the windows are in “critical need of repair.” The study continues, “Much of the exterior glazing putty at the individual panes has broken and deteriorated allowing both air and water infiltration. Quite a bit of the damaged interior window trim is most likely attributable to leaking through the masonry wall above and would hopefully be mitigated by the restoration of the exterior walls.”

LLB therefore recommends repairing the masonry walls before addressing the windows. After the masonry is repaired, the window sashes should be removed and the current finish stripped. Each sash would then be repaired and re-glazed as needed, then repainted. The estimate for this work is $94,609.

An interim approach would be to replace broken glass and exterior glazing putty. Loose peeled exterior paint would be removed and the windows repainted. The estimate for this work is approximately $18,016.

Comprehensive approach

As with many restoration and repair projects, the approach can be either to address immediate requirements as interim repairs, or to complete the project in a comprehensive manner. Although the interim repair approach would cost the town less in the immediate future, LLB recommends the comprehensive approach for two main reasons, both related to cost.

According to LLB, although interim repairs may be less expensive in the short term, they cost money now (for the immediate repair) and the cost is repeated when the permanent repair is made. In the report LLB also notes that in general, a larger project is more cost effective than several smaller projects.

LLB therefore recommends that the town proceed will the full scope of comprehensive repairs as soon as possible, stating that delay will result in further deterioration and higher repair costs. According to LLB, “The condition of the basement and foundation leakage is such that action must be taken for the wellbeing of the library staff and public as well as to prevent further deterioration of the building itself. While certain aspects of the mediation can be addressed on a temporary basis, the only course of action that will solve the water infiltration is a comprehensive one.”

LLB acknowledges that, at this time, the roof is not actively leaking, but notes that there are “obvious and gaping flaws in the existing original system” and points out that the wood decking is visible in many places through gaps in the slate. For this reason they suggest a full renovation of the roof. The consultants report that the masonry walls are actively leaking, and suggests that the scope of the damage indicates a comprehensive approach to renovation of the masonry. Finally, the windows are at the point where exterior glazing putty is failing, leading to energy loss and water infiltration. LLB therefore suggests “a comprehensive rehabilitation of the windows at this time to ensure their stability and historic integrity for many more years.”

LLB provided interim approaches and cost estimates, but stated, “These repair costs do not provide permanent renovation solutions to any of the issues, but only seek to temporarily prevent further destructive deterioration for a short term. Depending upon the unpredictable New England climate, these repairs may last one to five years. Also it is important to emphasize that the additional cost to remove or re-renovate much of these interim repairs would have to be factored back into the comprehensive repairs at a later time.”

When addressing the CPC, Library Director Angela Mollet acknowledged that the project could be broken down into several distinct sub-projects, but since that approach would be less cost effective, the committee was requesting $800,000 for the comprehensive approach.

Proposed timeline

If the proposed comprehensive approach is supported by the CPC and later by Town Meeting, building plans and specifications will be developed during the spring and summer of 2009, bidding will take place in summer 2009 and construction will begin by mid-fall 2009 with completion slated for fall 2010. The trustees anticipate little to no impact on public use of the library during the construction phase.

The executive summary of the Lerner, Ladds & Bartels report is available on the library website: ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito