They say the best preservation jobs are invisible. You can’t tell they happened afterwards; everything just seems to have been heightened, magically. There’s a new glow to all that’s remembered, a freshness of vision. A renewed sense of permanence.
Years from now, many will be able to use the just-completing work at the Maverick Concert Hall in West Hurley as a textbook example of all that can go right when historic preservation and maintenance work is done spot-on right. You see the place now and one can hardly tell anything’s been done on it over the last year, or that the work entailed expenses of nearly $1 million in federal, private, and state arts funding grants and donations.
“I think it’s been a wonderful effort,” said noted architectural historian Neil Larson, who served as owners’ rep on the project. “When we entered into this, trying to ensure that the north window wall would be preserved, our main interest was to put it all back together as it had never been taken apart. As it turned out, everyone used such a very soft touch on the work at hand that now we’ll have to put together a slide show to show that there was actually work done there.”
What’s now almost done came into view four years ago. In 2008, now-retiring U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey helped secure a $448,000 Save America’s Treasures matching grant from the federal government towards stabilization work at the historic Maverick Concert Hall, hand-built by festival and colony founder Hervey White and his friends and followers. Later, the New York State Council for the Arts gave Maverick Concerts one of two fully-funded $50,000 grants for preservation work.
At first, according to former Maverick board chair Susan Rizwani, the main problem in view was that iconoclastic window wall, which was starting to shake, lose caulking, and drop window panes. It was realized there were foundation problems in the rough-built hall, constructed directly on the ground. The idea was to keep things lasting another 100 years, to match the length of time since White and crew first built their hall in 1916.
Once work started on drainage issues around the hall, however, it was discovered that the sills upon which it all stood were badly damaged by rot, over time.
“It was more than we had anticipated,” Rizwani said. “All those years of the hall sitting directly on earth had an effect.”
What resulted was a compete reconstruction job, following the elemental drainage and foundation work needed beneath the structure. Eventually, all the windows and siding planks were taken off the concert hall, numbered and labeled, and eventually put back, using original nail holes.
“It was incredible the care everyone took,” Rizwani continued, noting the contributions of architect Stephen Tilley of Croton, building contractors Ren and Elaine Tate of Tate Construction in Red Hook, and drainage and sill specialist Mark Peritz of The Joy of Building, right here in Woodstock, as well as all their local crews. “The end result looks just slightly more beautiful than what was there before.”
Timing, of course, was of the essence…the new steel reinforcement beam beneath the structure, along with all the original glass from the north window wall, had to be in place by now…because the concerts are set to start by late June. Which leaves only so much time for the natural world to re-surround and embrace its friend of 96 years now, this grand, quirky structure.
“Everyone’s been very pleased by this project,” said Larson, noting the contributions of Building Committee chairperson Sandy Siegel in the process (Siegel was unavailable for comment at the time of this story).
“We hope this will be appreciated,” added Rizwani.
Which we suspect it will be…especially given the double punch of welcome surprises included in this summer’s as-always grand schedule, available now online at www.maverickconcerts.org.++