Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Olana in the Early Days

On Monday, Gossips recalled the beginnings of Olana as a state historic site. This morning, I discovered, among glowing reports about ongoing urban renewal projects in a Register-Star supplement called the "1972 Progress Edition," this story about the early days of the restoration and preservation of Olana, which includes some intriguing details about discoveries made in the house. 

Historic Olana Mansion Undergoing Roof Repair
Starting 1971 with structural decay, Olana Historic Site made significant advances by the close of the year.
Last spring, serious damage was caused to the 19th century mansion of Frederic Church through deterioration of the roofs and water damage.
Repairs finally started in mid-November and by Dec. 31, one half of the copper built-in gutter was replaced.
The site's maintenance staff performed extensive repairs in 1971, including installing plaster board in basement ceilings to replace fallen plaster, and repairing and painting exterior woodwork. Windows were reputtied and broken panes replaced.
Two important discoveries were made during the year--a Frederic Chuch fresco and two pieces of the Washington Cincinnati China Service.
The fresco was found in the old firewood room, covered with dust. Examination and cleaning revealed a mountain landscape with a European castle overlooking a lake. In the lower left corner was the name Church and the year 69 It was taken to the Art Conservation School, Cooperstown, for cleaning and conservation.
A dinner plate and saucer discovered by Curator Richard Slavin in a small box under a pantry sink, were identified by Carl Crossman, Childs Galley, Boston, as part of the Washington set, considered the most important of China trade porcelains. . . . 
Guides, in addition to host duties, pursued research projects. With the organization of the Friends of Olana, Inc. last summer, a vehicle was created for receiving contributions to the site.
The Friends held a Victorian community picnic last August to commemorate the 100th anniversary of groundbreaking for the castle. More than 6,000 visited the site that day. . . .
Although state budget cuts forced curtailment of visiting hours, daily attendance remained the same as the previous year, with approximately 27,000 visiting the mansion during the season.
The Friends of Olana became The Olana Partnership in 2000. Today, Olana reports 130,000 annual visitors.

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