The figures flanking the four quadrants of the original Administrative Building of the former Atascadero Colony, and now the eponymous City Hall, had four severely decayed figures, originally cast from a single mold. The cast stone fountain restoration worked to reverse decay and previous failed repair work. This involved reproducing elements of the cast stone.
There were numerous signs of previous repairs that needed to be attended to, also clearly related to the internal decay or 'iron-jacking' taking place in the core of each figure. And while there was enough original sculptural fabric to allow molding and reproduction of the Mermaid figures, the Birds were another level of challenge, as all original figure extension detailing (heads, wingtips, etc.) was missing. Luckily, we were able to connect with two different local residents, who graciously allowed us to make rubber molds from their privately-owned copies of the Birds and Turtles. It is always a bonus when missing historic material is discovered as a reference for accurate reproduction.
Constructed in 1918 as the Administrative Headquarters of the Atascadero Colony, the current City Hall was flanked at four corners by decorative sculptural fountains.
The figures were the result of casting at the site after design and maquette (on left) were used to fabricate four identical installation groups
The state of historic decorative figures from the original construction had deteriorated to a sorry state.
The cause of the decay was primarily related to the presence of ferrous iron reinforcing components, after prolonged exposure to moisture penetration of the cast stone surrounding the armature.
Eventually the fountains were abondoned as functioning water features, and the basins filled in with soil for use as planters.
There were also numerous signs of previous repairs, also clearly related to the internal decay or 'iron-jacking' taking place in the core of each figure.
A thorough cleaning of the surface of each figure revealed steel decay, surface loss, and previous inappropriate repairs.
While there was enough original sculptural fabric to allow molding and reproduction of the Mermaid figures, the Birds were another level of challenge, as all original figure extension detailing (heads, wingtips, etc.) was missing.
Our first foray into exploratory work revealed that the original basin floor had been broken up, probably to allow for drainage of the planter area.
Once all selective demo was completed, we were able to execute complete photo documentation, confirming site and object conditions prior to beginning the restoration phase of the project.
Concurrent with sculpture restoration, construction was taking place on the installation of new concrete surrounding walkways.
This phase included the design and installation of all new water delivery and re circulation systems.
We were also lucky to have the support and connections of a local resident. Kent provided us with the contact info of 2 different local residents who graciously allowed us to make rubber molds from their privately-owned copies of the Birds and Turtles. It is always a bonus when missing historic material is discovered as a reference for accurate reproduction.
Here the silicone rubber molds have been formed around the profiles of the missing sections matching those of original City Hall figures.
These same mold techniques were used on the Mermaid figures as well. Placement of these molded rubber forms allow us to accurately cast in place any missing sections of original cast stone. Note also the red anti-oxidation coating previously place over the original mild steel reinforcement.
Prior to any rebuilding work, each pair of Mermaids and Birds was lifted from its original base to locate the original water source and re-plumb each pipe chase with slighly smaller diameter new polymer plastic piping, thus eliminating another potential source of moisture to the original steel pipe
A typical condition and solution for the Mermaid figures involved the preparation of exposed mild steel reinforcing using wire bushes and limted abrasive cleaning. After surface preparation, the steel was coated with an epoxy-based rust-resistant coating to inhibit oxidation.
In addition to reproducing lost or damaged original profile, we also took care of previous and inappropriate repairs, here re-positioning an arm with had been mis-aligned in a well-meaning attempt at preserving the work.
Once cast in place, the new forms were highly accurate reproductions of the original profiles and surfaces.
the arm molds were used in several different configurations to reproduce the four matching sections.
Installation of each missing segment began with the placement of the bottom mold half
New stainless steel threaded rod was then inserted to provide structural support, but without the oxidation potential of the former support.
After casting in place, the rubber mold was removed carefully in sections.
Here the same means and methods were used to create the wingtips of the Bird figures.
After all replacement and restoration had taken place, each sculptural grouping was coated with a polymer-modified cementitious coating to impart a uniform appearance, and enhace the weater-resistance of the surface material.
The finished product at night. A great project that had the support of the community to help push it over the finish line and cap off the restoration of City Hall.