Restoration Diary: Gutting and Exposing the Upstairs

Posted on: February 15th, 2012 by David Garber 3 Comments

Gutting. It's kind of a bad word in some preservation circles. But in the case of Lionel Lofts, most of the interior walls and surfaces weren't original to the building: drywall, dropped ceilings, and carpet that would make me fear for my life if I walked on it barefoot.

As you can see ... EXPOSED BRICK! Although in most cases exposed brick was never intended to be exposed, it's a trend that adds warmth and character to building interiors and isn't likely to go away any time soon. For capital H historic buildings, keep the plaster. For lofts in a cool-and-old-but-not-necessarily-historic-building on a hot restaurant corridor, exposing brick isn't exactly a deal breaker.

Removing the plaster also exposed some 10-Commandments-shaped brick details in the walls (above). Anyone have an explanation for these? They don't tie into anything on the inside, but don't look like they were windows, either.

Demolition is a dusty job. But someone's gotta do it. While wearing air purifying masks.

During an intensive demo such as this, spraying a mist of water over the debris is an effective way to minimize airborne particulate matter, AKA all the stuff I was breathing in since I wasn't wearing a mask.

Goodbye, old pipes.

At this point you're probably wondering: "Are they saving anything??" Yes, but not much. The floor joists, elaborate radiators, and things like cool old cast iron sinks are being salvaged. But otherwise, the interiors will be pretty much brand new. Inside the old exterior, of course.

Mid-way through demo on the second floor...

And almost done with demo on the second floor. Notice a difference in ceiling height?

I thought this was a neat juxtaposition of places where the exterior has been opened and closed over time. From left to right: original window, new(ish ... very much ish) air conditioner unit, and old doorway, now bricked up.

As you can see above, the garage space is currently being used to sort and store demolition debris. Although the demo to this point has taken place only on the top two levels, hammers will hit the first floor retail space starting later this week.

David Garber is the blog editor at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. More information on this development project can be found on the Lionel Lofts website.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

General, Restoration, Revitalization

3 Responses

  1. Mod Betty /

    February 15, 2012

    “10-Commandments-shaped brick” – is that the official term? If it isn’t it should be, because it describes it perfectly!

    This is a neat (or messy) look into historic preservation / renovation – thanks for sharing. I’m always fascinated by what is kept and what is deemed trashable, and who decides it.

    We have many cool old buildings in our little town of Phoenixville, PA and I dream of winning the lottery and bringing them back to their original (or better) glory! Looking forward to seeing the progress on this project.

  2. Bryan

    February 15, 2012

    Very cool project! Its important to note, however, that projects involving State and Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits will rarely, if ever, be approved if brick that was concealed historically (by plaster or other materials) is left exposed.

  3. LMA

    February 19, 2012

    What’s the entire history of this building? Is there any chance that at one time part of it held a small church or synagogue? Perhaps those two elongated niches once held some backlit stained glass?