Over the winter, while the rest of us were wondering if the cold weather would ever end, the construction crew at the New Studio have been busy. With the building closed in and insulated, even the below-zero weather did not slow them down. On New Year’s Day, the cellulose insultation was blown into the wall cavities. The VESDA (Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus) was installed, along with the security system. The stainless steel pipes for the high-pressure mist fire suppression system were laid into the attic. A large sample of the “barge board” was created and approved by the architect. In the photo at right, the head contractor Rich Rappleyea shows off the woodwork sample, made of solid mahogany so that it will last at least 50 years. Now, with the weather turning at last, the crew will turn to work on the exterior once again.
Cast in Silver
Right now, the New Studio looks as if it were made of solid silver. The building has an unusual construction: the plywood sheathing is on the inside, attached to the wooden studs from within. The insulation, therefore, was added from the outside. What you are seeing in the photo at right is the foil coating on the insulating foam board. Underneath that layer is cellulose insulation, in between the studs. Very soon, the contractor will be putting on the siding. I’m sure the siding will be beautiful, but I do like the solid silver monument that it is right now.
The Roof Takes Shape
We brought in a crane this week and lifted the trusses into place. The building is taking on its final shape in this video:
Meet the Project Team
As this building goes up, a team of architects and enginners are overseeing every step. Pictured at right are (left to right):
Mark Dahl, architect from Mesick-Cohen-Wilson-Baker Architects; Betsy Jacks, Executive Director of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site; Rich Rappleyea, owner of Dimensions North, the contractor on the project; Stephen Dunn, Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site and head of the Building Committee; and Curtis Wilsey, engineer from Quantum Engineering.
Walls! And They are Tall
As I walked down the path to the New Studio construction site today, I was amazed to see a giant wall stretching into the sky. The building is taking shape. Two of the four walls are now up, and two enormous west-facing windows are framed. In the picture at right, I am standing in front of one of them. In Cole’s time, those windows would have framed an uninterrupted view of the Catskills. As I approached the building I was struck by how small the people looked in relation to the scale of the building, and it occurred to me that this was part of Thomas Cole’s design – the smallness of man. It was a beautiful sight. Do come and see this for yourself.
P.S. Don’t you want your name to be on the donor wall? Support the New Studio.
Thomas Cole’s Stones
This week I am happy to report that the foundation has been poured and the stonework on the exterior is almost complete. In the photo at right, you can see the stones being cut and carefully put in place. During the excavation of the site, the original foundation stones were saved, washed and stored on pallets. A skilled stone mason is now placing them on a concrete shelf that was built into the poured concrete foundation. The concrete portion, which you can see now, will be covered with earth when the building is complete.
The Footing Is In
Construction on the New Studio is now in its second week. Today the concrete footing was poured in the morning so as to be sure to get it in before the afternoon thundershower. Rich Rappleyea, our GC, was there early to be sure it all moved along quickly. The crew was fast! The wood form was completely done by the time the cement truck arrived. Shown in the photo at right is the footing at the north-west corner and a portion of the entrance portico as it juts out.
We Officially Broke Ground Today on the New Studio
We broke ground today on the reconstruction of the New Studio! It is a day that many people have been thinking about for a long time. A groundbreaking ceremony took place on the lawn next to the foundation stones with remarks and congratulations followed by a photograph with the shovels.
In the photo above are:
Rowena Sahulee, Director of Tourism Marketing at I LOVE NY.
Vincent Seeley, Mayor, Village of Catskill.
Joseph Kosloski (behind Vincent), Legislator, Greene County.
Stephen Dunn, Trustee, Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
Warner Shook, Trustee, Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
Lisa Fox Martin, Board Chairman, Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
Stephen Shadley, Trustee, Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
John Mesick (behind Stephen), Architect.
Rose Harvey, NY State Parks Commissioner.
Nina Matis (behind the shovel), Trustee, Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
Carrie Feder, Trustee, Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
Elizabeth Jacks, Executive Director, Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
Linda Gentalen (behind Elizabeth), Trustee, Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
Hudson Talbott, Trustee, Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
Peter Lopez, NY State Assemblyman.
Michel Goldberg, Trustee, Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
Come to the Groundbreaking Event
Thursday July 3, 2014, 10 am
We’re on our way! Join us for the official start of the project to reconstruct Thomas Cole’s New Studio. Giving remarks at the event will be Rose Harvey, New York State Parks Commissioner; Peter Lopez, New York State Assemblyman; John Mesick, the project’s architect; as well as Betsy Jacks and Lisa Fox Martin of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
Over the past decade we’ve been collecting any and all known photographs of the New Studio building, built in 1846 and demolished in 1973. Because the demolition was so recent, we are hoping that additional photographs will surface. Do you have or know someone who has an image of the building? If so, please contact us! Here are some of the images we’ve obtained so far. The sepia-toned photograph at right shows the building in a state of extreme disrepair, but the image is not dated and we have no information about the date. Below are two other photographs, but again with no date. Both of them show the building set among the trees of an old orchard, atop a grassy knoll. All of the known images show the building from this same angle — from the northwest looking southeast. The west facade has two enormous windows that face the Catskills. The north facade has an entrance porch. We have yet to find a single image of the east facade of the building.