Technical Assistance

Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport

Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport
Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport
Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport
Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport
Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport
Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport
Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport
Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport
Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport
Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport
Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport
Conservancy Pledges Technical Services and Emergency Grant to Seaport

The Conservancy’s technical services staff inspected the flood damage caused by Hurricane Sandy at 211 and 217 Water Street in the South Street Seaport. Both buildings date from 1836 and are owned by the South Street Seaport Museum.

Bowne & Company Stationers, founded in the 1790’s, is housed on the ground floor of 211 Water Street. It contains a historic print shop complete with printing presses, drawers of movable type and associated nineteenth-century artifacts. It is a one-of-a-kind historic collection of the printer’s craft. Next door, at 217 Water Street, the Museum keeps its ship models, some of them huge, and other displays.

The structures were built in 1835-36. The South Street Seaport Historic District designation report has this to say: “The buildings, among the finest in the historic district, are excellent examples of the widely popular commercial adaptation of the Greek revival style. Markedly simple in general design, they display on the ground floor monolithic granite piers with Tuscan capitals supporting a wide granite architrave.”

Both buildings suffered considerable damage. They took in about three feet of seawater on the main level and the basements were flooded from floor to ceiling.

Like much of the neighborhood, the buildings had no power or heat when we visited but they were a beehive of activity. A group of volunteers were busy drying and disinfecting the movable type from dozens of cabinets that had been soaked. Others worked on artifacts that had been tossed to the floor by the rush of water. Fortunately the paper and print collections were stored high enough off the floor that they were not damaged.

In terms of the buildings, the main damage visible was to the old pine floors. Floorboards appeared cupped and bulging in certain spots. Beneath the flooring, the wooden joists had been under seawater for hours. One of the main concerns is that over time, rot and mold and warping could permanently damage the timber elements. After our initial inspection, the Conservancy called Michael Devonshire of Jan Hird Pokorny Architects to take a look at the damage and provide the Museum with his assessment. Mr. Devonshire took moisture meter readings of the floors and the joists so as to get a sense of how much water had soaked into the wood. He is advising the Museum how best to deal with the clean-up, drying-out, and restoration. The process is ongoing. The Conservancy has pledged to assist the Museum with an emergency grant.