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Maintenance Guide for the Lincoln Memorial

Prepared by Architect Richard E. Bishop, November 1942. Origin of handwritten notes (shown in italics) is unknown; some appear to be the writing of Robert D. Starrett, Supervisor of Memorials and Museum Curator for the Indiana Department of Conservation.





The following notes were given —(long hand) to Mr. Jack Ritchie last week. He intends to start some of the cleaning as soon as possible — but the floor waxing and stone floors will probably not be done before you again visit the job.

Notes as given to Ritchie :—

Stone floors

  1. Scrub (using concrete cleaner as per directions — take care to keep off of adjoining woodwork—work around the wood by hand.
    (Rinse with clear water).

  2. Dry thoroughly.

  3. Apply floor seal (1 coat only as per directions)

  4. Let dry thoroughly before using

Brick Floors

  1. Scrub (using concrete cleaner, same as on stone floors). Scrape off spots of lime, etc., before scrubbing

  2. Wax and polish when thoroughly dry.

Wood Floors

  1. Sweep and dust thoroughly

  2. Clean (do not scrub) all wood floors with (a minimum) of water and washing powder as per directions.
    This cleaning to be done by hand, using damp cloth (wring almost dry).

  3. Wipe off the cleaning solution with cloth dampened (almost) dry in clear water only,
    Keep cleaning and wiping rage clean by frequent rinsing.

  4. Dry immediately with dry cloths.

  5. Wax and polish, using wax applicator and electric polisher. Wood floors to receive 3 coats wax-polished after each coat.

Very truly yours,
(Signed) R. E. Bishop




1. Stone Vestibul Floors—Clean of all spots and scrub with white laundry soap and water using a fibre scrubbing brush. The amount of soap required is about 1-1/2 bars of coap to the bucket of water or a sufficient quantity of soap powder to make a similar good soapy solution. The soap should be dissolved by being boiled, preferably in soft water. It is an advantage to add about 5 tablespoons of ammonia to a bucket of water. This helps cut the grease. After scrubbing, rinse thoroughly with clear water.

2. INTERIOR BRICK—FLOORS— Clean with soap and water as described for stone floors. Finish with floor wax, same as used for wood floors and polish.

3. EXTERIOR BRICK FLOORS— Clean with soap and water.


1. All enameled woodwork (Yellow Poplar)

This woodwork (off-white in color) should be kept clean with a cleaning agent, especially prepared and recommended for cleaning fine enameled woodwork. When repainting is necessary, use Devoe and Reynolds semi gloss enamel, Color No. 837. For cleaning use, "Soilax" or if any other cleaning agent is used, the approval of the State Engineer's office must be obtained.

2. All oiled and Waxed Woodwork (All walnut and cherry and y-poplar beams and trusses).

All of this type of woodwork was given 2 coats of quick drying "Minwax". 1/16 part of Devoe and Reynolds, brown mahogany, oil stain, was added for the cherry wood only. When dry, all walnut and cherry woodwork was waxed and polished.

Rewaxing should be done at least once a year and oftener if necessary. Use only the best grade of "carnauba" wax.

3. Dusting. All wood rails, sills, ledges, etc. should be kept free from dust at all times. This also applies to wood beams and truss members that are so placed as to catch dust. Trusses, roof beams, etc. should be dusted at least once each year.

4. Waxed Wood Floors. These oak floors were originally finished with liquid "Minwax"* and then waxed and polished similar to the wood work. Floors should be rewaxed as necessary to keep them clean and polished. Before waxing, remove all dust and dirt. When stone dust or grit has been tracked into the floors, clean before waxing, using No. 1 steel wool withmild soap suds. Use only a minimum of water. The steel wool should be only damp. Wipe off the soapy water immediately.

*Quick Drying Flat Finish, Natural #209-S, follow up (maintain) with liquid "Minwax" finishing wax and paste wax (for light finish).

5. Painted Metal Work.

Iron railings and grilles and any other ornamental iron or exposed iron work should be kept free from rust and painted with dull black exterior paint. Iron work should be inspected at least once each year.

6. Exterior Wood Doors and Frames.

All of these are finished with best grade spar varnish. Whenever the finish shows any signs of wear, the finish should be renewed. Before varnishing, clean with fine sandpaper or steel wool. Apply one or two coats of best grade spar varnish and when dry rub gently with fine steel wool to produce a "rubbed" dull polished surface. Tops and bottoms out side doors should be well protected with exterior paint.


1. Cleaning Brass.

Keep all ornamental brass clean and polished at all times. Use a thoroughly reliable metal polish. This applies to all finish hardware, light fixtures, and irons or other miscellaneous brass work.

2. Aluminum Sash and Windows.

Keep glass and rails, muntins, etc, clean at all times. Clean the aluminum by rubbing with fine steel wool.

3. Sliding Door Tracks. Keep these tracks well greased to reduce wear and noise.

4. Pipe Tunnels. Inspect the tunnels frequently to detect leaks. Tunnels should be dry and free from water at all times

5. Caulking. This applies to the caulking around wood frames and other wood wood joints stonework. It also applies to caulked stone joints, in the wall coping and other stone work with exposed top joints. As soon as the present caulking gets hard and cracks, the joints should be recaulked with new caulking compound. Best results will be obtained by using a good gun—grade caulking compound of a color to closely match the stone work. The caulking compound used was "Arco" made by the Arco Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. Any new caulking should be the same or equal in color and quality as approved by the State Engineer's Office.

ROOF INSPECTION. The tar and gravel roofs should be inspected carefully every spring and every fall for leaks, slips or failure of any kind. Any serious defects should be immediately reported to the State Engineer's Office at the Conservation Department, Indianapolis, A similar inspection of all metal roofs should be made at the same time and any defects reported


If there is any indication of sagging in the bottom chords of the large wood trusses in Abe Lincoln Hall, the State Engineer should be notified at once. These trusses should be inspected for alignment and for any excessive checking or cracking once every year.


Every year, preferably in the spring, the stone mortar joints should be inspected. All loose or cracked mortar should be removed and replaced with new mortar. New mortar should match the original mortar which was made from "Rich Mortar" in proportion of 1 part cement to 2-1/2 parts sand.


The custodian of the buildings will be required to keep a record and make a report of maintenance work and inspection or forms provided for that purpose.




All lavatories should be cleaned once each day and more often if found necessary. The lavatories can be cleaned with any good scouring compound. All rust stains should be completely removed and lavatories kept free of all stains.


The urinals should also be kept free of all rust and other stains. A good scouring compound can also be used for removing stains from the urinals. Urinals should be cleaned daily or as often as found necessary to keep them in good appearance at all times.


Water closets should also be kept clean and free of stains. Scouring compound can be used for the removal of stains. If the stains cannot be removed with scouring compound, sani-flush may be used for this purpose. In using sani-flush, it is best to allow this to stand in the bowl over night and then the bowl should be washed down with this solution. Bowls should be cleaned as frequently as is necessary to keep them in a clean condition. The toilet seats should be washed once each day with a weak chlorine solution. This solution can be made from purex or chlorox which can be purchased at a local grocery store.


Ladies and Men's Wash Rooms shall be kept clean and free of all waste paper and foreign matter at all times. These rooms should be inspected at least twice each day and more often if necessary


All faucets, flushometers and closet tank floats should be checked at least one each week for leaks. If any of the fixtures are found to be leaking they should be repaired at once.


The water lines in the tunnel should be checked once each month for leaks and if any leaks are found they should be repaired at once.


The hot water heater should be flushed twice each year in order to remove any sediment or rust which may be deposted in the heater. The electric switch which controls this heater should be turned off when flushing the tank and should never be turned on until the heater is full of water.



The operation of the boiler is automatic as long as it is being fired with fuel oil, but the boiler room should be visited at least twice each day to make sure that everything is operating properly. The boiler tubes should be cleaned out with a flue brush at least once each week during the operating season. The blow—off valve on both the water column and the water level con troller should be opened once each week in order to eliminate any sediment which has accumulated in these two units. The boiler should be blown down once each month. By blowing down is meant that the valve in the rear of the boiler should be opened for a sufficient length of time to dis charge all mud which may have assumulated in the lower section of the boiler, At the end of each season, the boiler should be completely drained and refilled with clean water and all owed to stand in this condition during the summer months.

If for any reason it is necessary to fire the boiler with coal, the switch on the oil burner should first be turned off before a fire is built in the boiler. At some future date it may be decided to use a boiler compound in the boiler, and if this is the case, complete instructions will be for the use of the compound at the time it is decided to use it.

The boiler should operate between approximately 2 and 7 pounds pressure. The pressuretrol is now set for this range, but should this range change for any reason, the pressuretrol can be adjusted by means of the small set screw on the side of this unit. The pressuretrol is mounted at the top of the boiler.

Printed instructions on the operation and care of the boiler and oil burner are posted with these instructions. Read them carefully and be thoroughly familar with them.

Check the fuel tank frequently to make sure that sufficient oil is on hand at all times. A gauge table is included with these instructions so that the amount of oil in the storage tank can easily be determined by measuring the depth of oil in the tank.

Keep the outside of the boiler and all pipes wiped off with a damp cloth so that no dust or dirt will accumulate on them. Also, keep all brass valves and brass trim polished at all times. Keep the boiler room neat and tidy and free of all dirt and foreign matter.


The motor on the vacuum pump and the blower should be kept oiled. If these motors are lubricated with grease, the grease cups should be filled about twice each year. If the motors are oil lubricated the oil cups should be inspected once each month and filled as needed. The motors should be thoroughly wiped off once each week and kept free of all dust and dirt. Particular care should be taken to wipe outside of oil cups clean and dry after filling them.

The vacuum pump should normally be operated on vacuum control. The pump should pull a vacuum of at least 4" to 6". If the vacuum should become much less than this, it would indicate a leak somewhere in the supply or return lines, and an inspection should be made to locate the leak. During mild weather, or at night, the vacuum pump may be operated on float control if it is found desirable to do so.

All equipment, pipes, ventilating ducts, etc. should be wiped off once each week with a damp cloth. All brass valves and brass trim should be kept well polished. The room should be kept free of all dirt and debris and kept tidy at all times. Any rust spots which may form on any metal surfaces should be immediately painted.

The heating coil in the ventilating system should be shut off except when in use. The heating coil and the inside of the ventilating ducts, as well as the plenum chamber, should be thoroughly cleaned twice each year. The outside screen on the intake of the ventilating system should also be cleaned at least twice a year or more often if found necessary.


If trouble develops in any of the electric control valves, theremostats, steam traps, vacuum pump, oil burner or special controls and regulators, these should not be tampered with and the Indianapolis Office should be immediately notified of any such trouble, In case of an emergency, a qualified mechanic can be called in to service the units which are giving trouble.

A chart has been furnished giving the location and function of each valve in the plumbing and heating system and this chart should be consulted before opening or closing any valve.

Painting of piping, boiler, boiler room and equipment will be necessary to maintain the good appearance but the Indianapolis Office should be consulted before such work is done.



  1. Day-to-day janitor work.

  2. Cleanup courtyard and cloister.

  3. Polishing brass.

  4. Keep rest rooms clean.

  5. Scrubbing limestone floors in lobbies (2 - chapel & hall)

  6. Guide Service for Public.

  7. Sell:

    Bird Books 10¢
    Tree Books 20¢
    Memorial Booklet 25¢
    Post Cards 5¢
    Photo Packet 25¢
    Map $1.00
    Turn money & record
    over to Superintendent
    each each week during summer.
    In winter only when have $10.00
  8. Cut grass - Courtyard & in front of memorial.

  9. Look after shrubbery as directed by landscape men from central office. Keep limbs & trash out of graveyard.

  10. Keep personal appearance good. Uniform is required.

  11. Ask Kennedy questions and write down information which you can use later.

  12. Call on Superintendent for assistance.

  13. Work Sunday but you get a day off during week in lieu of Sunday. Select day to suit you and supt. 2 weeks vacation with pay during year. Advise this office a month in advance. Work it out with supt. Vacation must be taken in calendar year.


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Last Updated: 25-Jan-2003