George Rogers Clark Memorial
Historic Structures Report
Historical Data
NPS Logo

Maintenance of the Memorial

A. Efforts to Get W. R. Heath to Stop the Seepage Fail

1. The Seepage is Reported and Discussed

Within six weeks of the day the memorial building was accepted by the Executive Committee, two defects were observed. The first, a discoloration of two limestone blocks in the inscription course, was easily corrected by W. R. Heath. [1] But the second fault, serious seepage, has continued to plague the structure until today. [2]

Initially, W. R. Heath, the prime contractor, blamed the seepage on Hartman Co., Inc., of Terre Haute, who had subcontracted to roof the structure. When workmen from Hartman Co., accompanied by Building Superintendent Schucker, inspected the roof, it was seen that the leaks were in the stonework and therefore Heath's responsibility. [3]

W. R. Heath's assurances that the seepage would soon stop were vain. On March 26, 1934, the Executive Committee was informed by Schucker that following a rain there were

numerous small leaks through the terrace into the finished rooms in the basement, including the electrical apparatus room, that there were very heavy leaks around the downspouts at the corners of the terrace into the unfinished part of the basement, that there were still some leaks from the roof into the peristyle between the columns and exterior wall of the building proper, and that there was a slight leak through the skylight into the center of the building. [4]

Architect Hirons expressed the opinion that the leaks resulted from "imperfect construction and defective workmanship." Executive Secretary Coleman cited specifications whereby Contractor Heath had guaranteed various features of his workmanship for periods ranging from two to five years. While Dr. Coleman notified the contractor and his bonding company that this situation must be corrected, Superintendent Schucker was directed to take steps to protect the water heater and electrical fixtures. [5]

To guard the boiler, metal bulwarks were erected. In the electrical room, the water as it dripped from overhead did not strike any of the expensive equipment. This room, however, was unsightly: walls and floors were unpainted and there was dark unfinished cork on the ceiling. The meter room next door, housing a pull box and two meters, was attractively painted. If possible, Schucker recommended that the ceiling of the electric equipment room be plastered and the room painted. [6]

2. W. R. Heath's First Attempt to Stop the Seepage

W. R. Heath, in April, arranged to send a crew from Chamberlin Weather Stripping Co. to remove a number of joints in the terrace and recaulk them with oakum and Pecora caulking compound. [7]

3. W. R. Heath & Hirons Voice their Opinions

This stopgap measure did no good, and on June 12, 1934, Charles McGaughey of Greencastle, as representative of Contractor Heath, appeared before the Executive Committee. [8] He reported that Heath, although he believed he had faithfully executed his contract, had spent between $2,500 and $3,000 to locate the seepage. What his people found satisfied him that the leaks were "not due to defective workmanship nor in any way his fault, but were due to the material and method of construction called for in the plans and specifications." McGaughey asked the Executive Committee to assume at least part of the responsibility for "the leaks and part of the expense of stopping them." Unless such assurance was forthcoming, W. R. Heath would cease its efforts to stop the seepage.

Hirons countered with a statement that the specifications were in accordance with those employed by the Federal Government for work of this character. An examination of the floor of the "stylobate immediately around the walls of the building, and of the joints in the terrace," had proved that the principal leaks were in the

circumferential joints in the floor surrounding the walls of the building and in the joints in the terrace and around the drains; that the specifications prescribed that all top circumferential joints and every third radial joint in stylobate, gutter copings and joints of projecting stones shall be grouted to within 4" of the surface, then caulked with oakum to within 2" of the surface and the remainder of the joint filled with "Vilcatex," or equal to be approved by architect, and left flush and watertight.

It was apparent to Hirons that the circumferential joints in the stylobate had not been treated in this manner. As every third radial joint in the stylobate had apparently been waterproofed, it was desirable to have the others treated in the fashion prescribed for the circumferential joints, and to have all joints around the drain and in the terrace reworked and made waterproof.

The Executive Committee asked W. R. Heath "to complete the proper installation of certain circumferential joints, the top joints of the coping (three courses) and such other joints as he admitted to be his responsibility." [9]

4. W. R. Heath's Second Attempt to Stop the Seepage

W. R. Heath subcontracted with Keller-Ferguson Construction Co. to waterproof the memorial. The latter's workmen were soon busy removing cement from the mortar joints, and replacing it with a mastic compound, "where by reason of weather or climatic condition it was demonstrated that the material used and called for in the original specifications . . . was . . . inadequate."

Work accomplished consisted of:

Vertical Joints 308 feet cement mortar joints cleaned out to a depth of 4" and installed 2" of oakum and 2" of caulking compound . . . $  121.97
Steps 2714 feet cleaned out to a depth of 2" and filled with oakum and caulking compound . . . $1,074.74
Terrace Wall 783 feet cement joints cleaned out to a depth of from 1" to 2" and filled with oakum and caulking compound . . . $  310.07
Top of Monument 1928 feet cleaned out to a depth from 4" to 6" and cement joint filled with oakum and caulking compound . . . $  763.49
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . $2,270.27[10]

By late July 1934, Keller-Ferguson declared the job completed and turned a crew to removing oil stains from the granite caused by the caulking compound. They began by poulticing the stains with plaster of paris and muriatic acid of three-fourths strength. Schucker put a stop to the use of acid, as he feared it was too strong. There after they employed only a plaster of paris poultice, and while this took longer there was no danger of etching the stone. [11]

5. The Seepage Gets Worse

A four-inch rain in late August 1934 demonstrated that the seepage had not been stopped. A major leak was discovered in the custodian's office. The source of this leak and the one in the boiler room caused considerable headshaking, as all joints in "all directions had been recaulked." A close inspection during the next rain indicated that the water was seeping "in a newly caulked joint in the pebble terrace above these points." When Schucker examined these joints, he saw that they were not "solidly filled," and he speculated that the contractors had used too large a nozzle on their caulking guns. [12]

On December 3, 1934, it was reported by Superintendent Schucker that the leak in the electric equipment room remained serious, while a new one had "started coming from around the gutter drain, the down spout of which comes down thru the ceiling." [13]

Schucker, On March 20, 1935, notified Heath Construction that a recent three-day rain had caused a number of leaks to develop in the attic space. He had counted 17 major leaks and a number of smaller ones. Water was standing in spots on the granite floor and running down through the floodlight boxes. In six places it was seeping through the granite floor joints and discoloring the granite ceiling back of the columns. There were also leaks in the boiler, meter, and electric equipment rooms. [14]

Within two weeks, Schucker had additional grounds for complaint. He saw that a number of mortar joints, on the inside face of the pebble terrace coping wall, had opened, permitting water to seep through. When this was called to the attention of Keller-Ferguson Construction, they sent a crew to the memorial to recaulk these joints. [15]

6. The Executive Committee Fails to Press the Issue

W. R. Heath, not wanting to admit that stopping the seepage was their responsibility, billed the commission for the work done by Keller-Ferguson. Before replying to W. R. Heath, Clem Richards, who had replaced Dr. Coleman as executive secretary, checked with local architects Schucker & Bixby. [16] Schucker, on checking the memorial, reported on June 23, 1936, that the "leaks in the Basement and those thru the slate tile roof as a whole are as bad as ever." While two leaks in the locker room had been stopped, others had developed. In the custodian's office there was so much seepage that "almost the entire ceiling and side walls" were affected. Plastering and paint were in bad condition. The leak in the electric equipment room had not improved, while those into the circular attic were "especially bad" in their effect as the water collected on the granite attic floor and, seeping through joints, gradually caused the granite ceiling of the colonnade to become badly stained. [17]

The situation became worse. On January 30, 1937, Schucker reported that previous to this winter the leaks had not caused too much damage to the structure, but now they had become so numerous that "the disastrous results" to the building were "appalling." Seepage through the slate roof was so bad that, after a heavy rain, it stood on the granite floor to a depth of one-half to three-quarters of an inch. This water was saturated with "white matter" it had absorbed in seeping through the structural roof slab. Following a heavy rain, water dripped for weeks as it soaked through the attic floor joints. An unsightly leak had developed in the limestone ceiling on the interior of the memorial just above "The March on Fort Sackville" mural.

In the locker room the situation had deteriorated. Additional leaks had developed and the floor was flooded. Because of the leakage, it was impossible for the custodian to use the electric light in his room. Water was standing in the basement corridor, and it came down the wall near the custodian's door, got behind the marble wainscot, discoloring it and damaging the painted plaster wall above.

In Schucker's opinion, the caulking done in 1934 and 1935 had had no effect. [18]

For some unexplained reason, the Executive Committee did not go to the courts. W. R. Heath was allowed to escape its contractual obligation to stop the seepage, and this problem has continued to plague the memorial and those responsible for its upkeep until today. In addition, subcontractors who had done work on the memorial structure for Heath Construction had difficulty collecting their money. Southern Engineering Co., of Kansas City, Missouri, which had installed the plumbing for $28,500, was owed $3,097.44 on its account. When the prime contractor continued to drag his feet, the subcontractor protested to the commission. All evidence indicates that the Executive Committee made a terrible error in awarding the contract for the structure to W. R. Heath, a firm that had never built anything more complicated than courthouses and fraternity and sorority houses.

B. The Principal Causes of the Seepage are Identified

1. The Nothnagel Study Triggers an Investigation

Frank Culbertson succeeded to the position of executive secretary on the death of Simeon Fess. In December 1938, Culbertson was compelled to take cognizance of complaints regarding seepage in the memorial. He contacted C. W. Nothnagel, a structural consultant of Bedford, Indiana, and had him investigate problems that had developed in the structure, such as falling mortar, moisture penetration, and discoloration of stonework. On doing so, Nothnagel found that the deterioration was caused by "moisture penetration through vertical joints in the granite work that were not . . . filled with mortar," or properly grouted, and a lack of proper flashing in certain points. [19]

The commission, when apprised by Culbertson of what Nothnagel had observed, determined to inspect the memorial. In the third week of April 1939, ten weeks before it was scheduled to expire, members of the Federal Commission led by Lew M. O'Bannon spent a day in Vincennes, investigating reports of "deterioration of the stone" shrine. "Decadent conditions at the memorial caused by leakage, which had been allowed to exist," had caused growing concern and increased alarm. Should the situation be allowed to continue, there could be a scandal.

Before going to the memorial, O'Bannon, Dr. Coleman, and Judge Ralph Gilbert met with Culbertson. Although Culbertson accompanied them to the memorial, he, for some unexplained reason, soon returned to his office. The others were allowed to proceed with the field study. They scrutinized the water stains on the interior walls of the rotunda and toured the basement rooms where stalactites, some as much as four feet in length, were found. On the exterior of the structure, they found a huge, five-ton block of granite which had been moved out of line by water penetrating open joints and then freezing. In the basement they saw marks left by water which had recently flooded the rooms. [20]

2. The Schucker & Bixby Report

a. The Commission Contracts with Schucker & Bixby

Because of this visit, the Indiana Commission met in Indianapolis in the second week of July to discuss what they had seen and the Nothnagel study. Out of this meeting came a resolution authorizing the architectural firm of Schucker & Bixby of Vincennes to prepare specifications, drawings, and estimates for "certain proposed repairs" to the memorial.

b. The Seepage into the Attic is Pinpointed

During the next two months, the Vincennes architects made "numerous inspections and several tests for water leakage into the Building and defects in the electrical wiring and other equipment." [21] Initial examinations of the structure revealed that water was seeping into the attic space, between the wall above the colonnade and the main circular wall, at many points and "in considerable quantity, at times completely covering the attic floor." Water had spread over the area and percolated through the joints in the granite ceiling, and at times had overflowed through openings in the granite ceiling provided for electric lighting units. Thins seepage had stained the Indiana limestone ceiling inside the structure. A number of joints had opened, the result of mass expansion of the circular wall and the individual contraction of each stone. Measurements demonstrated that the circumference of the circular wall had increased significantly, in the six years since the memorial was constructed.

To pinpoint the leakage and to verify their theory, they played a stream of water from a hose over the roof and flashing surfaces for several hours, being careful to keep the water off the open joints in the wall. No seepage was spotted, and Schucker and Bixby were satisfied that the "entire leakage at the top of the building was thru the open joints of the circular wall." [22] (See drawing accompanying this report, showing distortion of top of circular wall of memorial building.)

Because of the cost factor, it would be impossible to dismantle the wall above the roof lines and rebuild it, to provide expansion joints to prevent a recurrence of the present difficulty. Instead, they recommended that all open joints be caulked and the entire surface of the circular wall, on the inner side, be waterproofed. [23]

c. The Cause of the Seepage into the Basement is Identified

The Schucker & Bixby study indicated that the leakage into the rooms and spaces below the terrace was caused by: (a) damage to the "waterproof membrane" when W. R. Heath workers positioned the granite slabs and poured the pebble concrete; and (b) the installation of improper terrace drains. If money were no problem, the difficulty could be corrected by removal of all the granite slabs and pebble-concrete terrace pavement, including the stylobates at the steps, and the replacement of the fractured waterproof membrane. But because of its high cost this alternative was rejected. The suggested answer to this problem was a halfway measure. An effort should be made to seal all joints and cracks in the finish slabs with caulking compound and to apply a colorless, waterproof material to the entire surface, "to seal the pores and minute cracks in the granite and concrete surfaces."

A copper catch basin should be installed on the terrace drain in the finished part of the basement. This would be designed to catch water which "runs to the drain locations on top of the membrane waterproofing and into the Building on the outside of the drain." [24]

d. Other Repairs Needed

Other repairs proposed included: (a) the joints in the granite work, especially the terrace walls, should be repointed; (b) the plastering ruined by the leakage, as well as the metal lathing and cork insulation on the ceilings, was to be replaced; (c) the basement rooms, with their metal doors and frames, were to be repainted; and (d) stains caused by seepage were to be removed from the Indiana limestone ceiling of the rotunda. [25]

It was recommended by Schucker & Bixby that a contract for repair of plastering and interior painting be deferred until the leakage problem was solved. Neither should a contract for repair of the electrical work be awarded until additional tests had been made. They placed the cost of repairs needed to stop the seepage at $2,888. [26]

C. The 1941 Rehabilitation of the Memorial

1. Director Barnhart's October 1941 Visit to the Memorial

The Indiana Commission did not have sufficient funds to underwrite a contract to stop the seepage, and, because of petty bickering over deeds and an attempt to dispose of part of the park, it was August 1940 before the Indiana Department of Conservation assumed responsibility for the Clark Memorial. When it did, there were no funds budgeted for repairs to the memorial structure. In the late summer of 1941, the Department of Conservation commissioned McGuire & Shook, Indianapolis architects, to make a study of needed repairs. The firm submitted its report to Director Hugh Barnhart on September 22, 1941. [27]

On October 8 Barnhart and a number of his staff visited Vincennes where, after meeting with Mayor A. B. Taylor and members of the Chamber of Commerce, they inspected the memorial. [28] Barnhart told Mayor Taylor that the commission had authorized immediate repairs to the memorial to cost $7,500, and pledged himself to push the next General Assembly for "ample funds to put the shrine . . . in first class condition and maintain it that way."

Barnhart also voiced concern about smoke damage to the memorial bridge and the murals. This smoke came from Baltimore & Ohio switch engines. He said the State would not be satisfied with the memorial until the tracks were removed and the boulevard extended through the grounds. [29]

2. The Proposed Work Program

The $7,500 programmed for repair of the structure was to be expended as follows:

a. Parapet Wall between Inner and Outer Roof-$4,000

This wall, about two feet thick, had a granite exterior face and coping with a glazed brick inside facing and brick back-up masonry The dowels, which had been positioned. between the two courses of coping to cause the wall to contract as a unit, were too weak. Consequently, the joints had opened, starting at the top, allowing water to seep. Alternate freezing and thawing had caused further spreading. Some of the joints, once one-fourth inch, were now one and one-half inches across. The movement of these stones had caused the horizontal joints to open and water to penetrate in back of masonry under the "copper flashing below the second course of granite blocks." This water seeped through the back-up masonry to the inside of the memorial and had stained the limestone dome. In addition, the movement of the upper courses of granite had cracked the glazed brick forming the surface of the inner wall.

To correct this condition and to keep the parapet walls from further disintegration, it would be necessary to remove the upper three courses of granite and all the surface brick from the inside wall. When it was reconstructed, the wall was to be waterproofed in back and the finishings improved to make the wall solid and impervious to water. The top course was to be doweled, and the two courses immediately below were to be provided with government U-shaped anchors. [30]

b. Outer Roof-$600

The outer roof of butt-jointed slate tile laid on a sand cushion leaked badly. There was a thin layer of concrete and waterproofing under this and over the structural slab. Efforts to trace the leaks to their source in the slate had been unsuccessful, and the sand, once it was saturated, seeped water for days after a hard rain.

To stop these leaks, it was proposed "to put in a sand filler covered with one and one-half inches to two inches of concrete with a built-up tar and gravel" surface. The edges of this roof would be carried up on the vertical walls at least three inches and then flashed and counter-flashed with copper. All drains were to be reset, and the slope of the roof increased to accelerate run-off. It was estimated that a tar and gravel roof would suffice for at least 15 years. [31]

c. Pointing in Upper Portion--$250

All vertical and horizontal joints in the granite masonry of the parapet wall were to be checked, and if showing any defects were to be raked out and repointed. This would also be done to the vertical joints in the entablature. [32]

d. Pebble-Concrete Terrace--$ 400

An examination had demonstrated that "the excessive amount of leakage" from the pebble-concrete terraces" had resulted from the imperfect construction or "subsequent damage" to the waterproof membrane, and to a faulty design in the floor drains. While it would not be costly to adjust the drains, the correction of the faults in the membrane would be tremendously expensive. It was therefore determined to attempt to waterproof the surface of the terrace, "with the . . . understanding that this may be only partially successful."

To accomplish this, the expansion joints in the concrete terraces would be cleaned of caulking and the joints filled with molten asphalt. All cracks in the slabs would be routed to a depth of one inch and a width of not less than one-fourth inch and pointed with mortar or lead. Finally, the surface of the concrete terrace was to be given a treatment of colorless waterproofing. [33]

e. Stylobates and Steps--$850

All joints in the granite structure from the inside edge of the pebbled terrace up to the wall of the memorial, where there were indications of cracks, were to be cleaned to a depth of one inch and the joints repointed with pointing mortar or lead. [34]

f. Outer Terrace Walls--$550

The outer terrace walls, along with the adjacent granite floor, lower granite steps, and two large buttresses, were to have cracks cleaned and joints repointed.

g. Repair of Basement Plastering and Painting--$300

In the basement the seepage had caused much plastering to fall. Once the leakage had been stopped, the plaster was to be patched, and the cork insulation and metal lath replaced where needed. The walls of the basement rooms were to be repainted. [35]

h. Underground Wiring--$400

The 1939 tests by Schucker & Bixby had shown that approximately 800 feet of the ground lighting circuit had to be replaced.

i. Interior Wiring--$75

Although the interior wiring was generally satisfactory in 1939, it was known to have deteriorated. Some light fixtures and switches needed to be replaced. Electrical cabinets were rusted, while the "condition of the wiring in the conduit" was problematical. This work, however, should not be undertaken until the leakage from the terrace was under control.

j. Mechanical Installations--$75

The heating plant had been a problem for years. It was believed that this difficulty was rooted in "faulty adjustments and some damage in the . . . automatic controls." As the plant was "an almost completely automatic gas-fired unit furnishing both hot air and steam," it was believed that most of the problems originated be cause of lack of knowledge on the part of the operator. It was urged that he be given a brief course of instruction in operation and maintenance of the furnace. Moreover, leakage had ruined the insulating wrapping on many of the basement pipes and ducts. The insulation would be checked and replaced where needed. [36]

3. The Work Accomplished

The work force was drawn from the Department of Conservation, reinforced by a few skilled craftsmen hired locally on an hourly basis. Schucker & Bixby were employed to oversee the project. The men were turned to before the end of the month. Work on the terrace and adjacent stonework, designed to stop seepage into the basement, was purposely delayed by Schucker to permit the people repairing the parapet wall to finish. By the end of the third week of December, 9,000 bricks and 111 stones had been reset and caulked, and the anchors, dowels, and flashings installed. It was now apparent, however, that the cost of work on the parapet wall was going to exceed its estimate of $4,000, and certain economies were necessary. [37]

It was accordingly determined to forego the scheduled plastering and repair to the mechanical and electrical installations. Some attention, however, had to be given to the heating plant, which was out of order. Before calling in a representative of American Radiator Corp., it was determined to install a partition with a door to close the tunnel leading into the space under the skylight. As soon as the door had been positioned, the steam was shut off, and the lines heating the outer circular tunnel closed and drained. [38]

The outer roof was rehabilitated and covered with tar and gravel. Next, attention was focused on the pebble-concrete terrace, and finally the joints in the stylobates, steps, and outer terrace walls were cleaned and grouted.

D. The 1943-44 Rehabilitation Program at the Memorial

1. Snyder Construction Contracts for Repair of the Outer Roof

Within a few weeks, it was apparent that the halfway measures attempted had failed to stop the leakage through the pebble-concrete terrace into the basement. In addition, water continued to seep through the outer roof. Director Barnhart and his aides now admitted that it would taken thousands of dollars to stop the seepage and to repair the stonework.

In accordance with a request by then Department of Conservation, the Indiana General Assembly in 1943 appropriated $40,000 for repair of the Clark Memorial, of which $25,000 would be made available in Fiscal Year 1944 and then remainder in the following fiscal year. [39] On October 11, 1943, the Department of Conservation contracted with Snyder Construction Co. of Vincennes for repair of the outer roof of then memorial "between the cornice and the parapet walls." This project had been programmed for 1941, but because of then high cost of rebuilding the parapet wall it had been deferred. Snyder would remove all slate covering on the roof over the circular portico, the filler between the slate and concrete slab below, and the lead-coated flashings. Two coats of waterproofing were to be applied, and the filler replaced with light-weight concrete. After the flashings had been replaced, the joints where the flashings entered the masonry were to be caulked, and metal splash plates under the scuppers positioned. A roof of tar and gravel with a 20-year guarantee was to be applied. (Seen Appendix B for "Specifications for Repair of Roof of Memorial.") [40]

2. Snyder Contracts to Repair the Masonary Walls

Two days later, on the 13th, Director Barnhart announced that bids would be received and opened in his office in Indianapolis on the 27th for additional repairs to the memorial. [41] This project would provide for: (a) the removal and resetting of approximately 2,300 cubic feet of granite blocks; (b) the removal and relaying of about 1,200 cubic feet of back-up masonry; (c) the cleaning and recaulking of 2,000 lineal feet of expansion joints, type A; (d) then cleaning and repointing of 18,500 lineal feet of mortar joints, type B; (e) the cleaning and recaulking of approximately 9,200 lineal feet of type C mortar joints; and (f) then positioning of new galvanized anchors. Once again, Snyder Construction Co. submitted the low bid and was awarded the contract. [42]

Snyder's people were to remove, clean, and reset all granite masonry that had been "moved from its original position, pushed out of line or become loose in its setting bed in both walls of the bridge approach, the balustrade wall enclosing the promenade around the memorial proper and a few stones in the vicinity of the Francis Vigo Statue." Whenever any granite masonry was removed, "all brick core walls backing such masonry" were to be removed to the same levels "as the granite and then replaced using new brick." All new brick was to be provided by the contractor. Any anchors found unsatisfactory by the project engineer were to be replaced. After resetting the granite masonry, Snyder was to repoint all joints and clean the walls.

All expansion joints in the terrace floor between the stylobates and the balustrade walls were to be cleaned to the depth of the upper slab and blown out with compressed air. When clean, they were to be primed with Minwax Asphalt Primer and allowed to dry. Minwax Vault Light Cement would be poured into the joints and made flush with then top of the slab. Before this hardened, a coat of clean white sand was to be sprinkled on then surface of the joints to prevent adhesion of the asphalt compound to pedestrian traffic.

Vertical and horizontal stone joints in the balustrade walls, then stylobates, the entablature, the upper parapet wall, the pylons to the bridge, and the walls to the bridge approach were to be cleaned to a depth of one inch and blown out with compressed air. The joints would then be wetted with clean water and pointed with pointing mortar. All joints were to be cut flush with the face of the stone.

Stone, joints in the upper surfaces of platforms, stops, curbs, and coping were to be cleaned to a depth of three inches and blown clear with compressed air. When dry, the joints were to be primed with compound to within one inch of the top, and knife grade caulking compound used in the upper inch. All these joints were be flush with the surface of the stones. [43] (See Appendix C for Specifications governing the contract for pointing and sealing of stone work of the Clark Memorial.)

3. Snyder Executes His Contracts

Austin Snyder, on being awarded the contract on his low bid of $14,000, told the press that he hoped to begin work by mid-November and have the project completed by June 1, 1944. [44] It was then 25th, however, before Snyder workmen had a movable derrick on the grounds.

During the day, as Supervising Architect Schucker watched, laborers removed three courses of granite from the dome. [45] Snyder pushed his men hard, and by January 1, 1944, they had completed the contract for repair of the outer roof. When spring rains came and no water seeped into the attic space, hopes were high that the tar and gravel roof had been the answer, and that leakage into this section of then structure had been stopped.

It was mid-summer before the contractor had finished cleaning and recaulking the joints in the terrace, balustrade, stylobates, entablature, bridge approach, and adjacent to the Vigo statue. While the appearance of the stonework was improved, the Minwax Vault Light Cement did not take the place of the fractured waterproof membrane. Although the seepage into the basement was slowed it was not stopped. As the years passed, the seepage through the pebble-terrace increased, and by the early 1950s had become as serious a problem as it had been prior to the work undertaken by Snyder Construction.

E. Bob Starrett takes Charge

1. The Installation of a New Lighting System

World War II ended in 1945, and the Department of Conservation hired Robert Starrett as curator. Bob Starrett, during the next 19 years, spearheaded efforts to secure funds from a tight-fisted and economy-minded General Assembly to properly maintain the Clark Memorial.

In the summer of 1946, Starrett visited the memorial on two occasions. While in Vincennes in mid-August he saw that Killian Electric Co. had complied with a recent contract and had installed the remaining plaza lights. With these in position, there were now 16 units at then top of the rotunda, one behind each column. Each unit consisted of four 300-watt lamps over a ribbed glass cover and bulb. These had replaced the amber-coated glass. Memorial Custodian Wilcher was delighted with the new lighting, and in his opinion the memorial no longer resembled a "gray ghost." [46]

2. The Installation of Two Drinking Fountains

Plans having been made to install drinking fountains, Starrett, on checking with Custodian Wilcher, found that it would be impractical to draw water from the memorial well, because the pump was operated only seasonally to provide water for the Muellermist lawn sprinklers. It was accordingly determined to connect the bubblers that had been installed on the walls outside the men's and women's restrooms to a city main. [47]

3. The Basement Doors & Frames are Repainted

Starrett, during his August visit, saw an item that needed correction. He observed that the metal doors and frames in the basement rooms and halls were rusted and needed to be repainted. In accordance with his recommendation, they were scraped, given a coat of "anti-rust paint, and one or two coats of finish enamel." Efforts were made by Custodian Wilcher to match the greenish enamel which represented a bronze patina. [48]

F. Then Outer Roof Again Causes Problems

1. The Wind Storm of March 12, 1948

High winds swept the Vincennes area on March 12, 1948, and great sections of copper flashing were "torn loose on top" of the memorial. Although none of the sheeting was ripped completely off, the Custodian feared that if a heavy rain occurred before repairs were effected, the resultant seepage would ruin the Winter murals. In addition, the loose flashing made a terrible racket whenever the wind blew. [49] Emergency repairs were made by Joice Sheet Metal Works of Vincennes.

2. The 1950 Repairs to the Roof

a. Robert Joice Agrees to Replace the Copper Flashings

This was just a stop gap measure, because by the late 1940s it was clear to personnel of the Department of Conservation that the outer roof of the memorial was again leaking badly and needed extensive repairs. Bids for this work were twice received. The first time the proposals were too high and were rejected, while no bids were received on then second occasion. Chief Engineer Henry C. Prange was uncertain how much labor would be required to stop the leakage. Consequently, it was determined that the Department purchase copper for the flashings and hire the work done on a "time and material basis."

The Department in the autumn of 1949 contracted with Joice Sheet Metal Works for repair of the outer roof. But because of previous commitments by the firm no work was done until the following spring. Prange, after discussing the subject with Robert L. Joice, forwarded a requisition for $1,200 to the Department to cover cost of replacing the copper flashings over the granite.

b. Midwest Roofing Renews the Outer Roof

After some of "the work" was uncovered, it was seen that the built-up roof also needed repairs The Department authorized Joice to do this work. Joice, in turn, employed a subcontractor, the Midwest Roofing and Insulation Company, Inc., of Evansville.

Engineer Prange had all the gravel removed, and as "attempts to patch leaky spots" in the outer roof had heretofore been unsuccessful, he had personnel of Midwest Roofing cover the built-up roof with new felt. Three tons of asphalt were used to retar the roof, and then five tons of gravel applied. This work was completed by the end of June, and Midwest Roofing billed Joice for $l,843.50. [50]

c. Joice Replaces the Copper Flashings

In July workmen of Joice Sheet Metal installed the copper flashing "in the best manner." (See Appendix D for copy of specifications.) The copper work consisted of lead-coated copper. Where the edge of the copper joined the granite, it was leaded into a groove. Expansion joints were provided. Joice billed the State for $1,567 for labor on the flashing. [51]

Before the State would make payment, Midwest Roofing was compelled on September 5 to submit a statement guaranteeing the rebuilt roof "to be free from defects in material and workmanship, for a period of Twenty (20) years." [52] Engineer Prange, on inspecting the workmanship, announced that "the leaky condition of this roof has finally been eliminated." [53]

3. Joice Seals the Leaks in the Skylight

Engineer Prange within 25 months found that he had been too optimistic. A report was received from the custodian in September 1952 that "water blisters" had formed under the built-up gravel roof. Director Cougill relayed this information, a log with a copy of the 20-year guarantee, to Midwest Roofing. The firm was informed that it would be appreciated if it made "an early inspection and correction." [54]

This situation was corrected, but there was additional difficulty with the outer roof in 1953. In July, the custodian having reported leakage, Maintenance Engineer Larue Stout, of the Department of Conservation, and Joice inspected the roof. They saw that the skylight leak could be corrected easily by reshaping the copper strips over the joints between the glass panes and replacing the felt strips.

When they examined the roof between the skylight and parapet wall, they found the flashing on the parapet wall in good condition, but the flat seamed copper, joining the skylight and parapet wall to the standing seam copper roofing, had many open seams. They believed that here was the source of the leakage. Stout and Joice theorized, incorrectly, that water, after penetrating the parapet wall and the passageway below, seeped through the wall joints and into the basement rooms.

Joice believed he could seal these leaks by applying a "porous, elastic but firm, membrane" over the seams and then working roofing cement into the membrane and covering it with the same. He was prepared to guarantee such work for five years. [55]

Chief Engineer Prange was skeptical of the Stout-Joice plan for correcting seepage into the basement and no effort was made to implement it. The leaks in the skylight, however, could not be ignored. Joice was asked for estimates on correcting this situation. The felt having rotted, Joice proposed to replace it with rubber gaskets, while he covered the open seams in the copper roofing with membrane and rubberoid mastic. He would provide mechanics at $2.75 per hour and laborers at $2 an hour, while the State was to pay for materials.

Chief Engineer Prange, on reviewing Joice's plan, found it satisfactory and recommended that it be adopted as soon as possible, so the labor could be done before the weather; turned cold. [56] Director Cougill approved Prange's suggestion, and instructions were given for Custodian James Biddle to place Joice's men on the memorial payroll. [57]

4. Seepage Through the Roof Ceases to be a Problem

a. The 1954 Seepage is Corrected

Within a year of then completion of this project, several minor leaks were pinpointed by Custodian Biddle around the skylight. Joice was hired to position additional rubber gaskets around the copper stripping. [58] Director Cougill at the same time notified Joice and Midwest Roofing that the built-up roof which they had repaired in 1950 and guaranteed for 20 years was again seeping water. Joice and several men attended to this problem and installed the additional gaskets in late October 1954. [59]

b. Joice and Midwest Roofing Seal the 1958 Leaks

Four years passed before the roof gave the custodian any additional trouble. In June 1958 Chief Engineer Prange notified Midwest Roofing and Joice that an inspection of the memorial on May 21 had shown that the built-up roof was again leaking. But as some caulking and repointing had been scheduled for the structure, the Department did not want the roof repaired "until this work had been completed." As the repointing and caulking project was out for bids, it would be late summer before they would be able to repair the roof. The Department would advise them when they could begin. [60]

c. The 20-year Guarantee Expires

Repairs effected by Joice and Midwest Roofing in the autumn of 1958 to the built-up roof solved the problem. Since then there has been no leakage through the memorial roof. It must be pointed out, for benefit of management, that the 20-year guarantee given by Joice and Midwest Roofing for the outer roof has now expired. [61]

G. The 1952 Effort to Stop the Seepage

1. The Seepage Through the Pebble-Terrace Again Becomes Serious

By the winter of 1951-1952, seepage through the pebble-concrete terrace into the basement was again a serious problem. When he investigated this situation, Chief Engineer Prange reported that the Department, in the years since it had assumed responsibility for the memorial, had "expended considerable funds in an attempt to stop leaks due to faulty design and construction." Measures heretofore attempted had resulted in only temporary relief. It was estimated that another attempt to seal the pebble-terrace would entail an expenditure of about $9,000. [62]

An air of urgency was added to the situation when on March 10 a heavy rain, followed by serious leakage into the basement, caused the electrical system to short-circuit. Goaded by fears that the wiring system might be knocked out unless the seepage was checked, the Department budgeted funds to correct this situation. [63]

2. Midwest Industrial Products Blacktops the Terrace

With the necessary funds in hand, the Department on March 27 invited proposals for waterproofing the pebble-concrete terrace with "Carbo-Tread" over a muslin membrane to be sealed with Jennite J-16 (see Appendix E). Bids were opened and abstracted on May 22, and the contract awarded to Midwest Industrial Products Corporation of Chicago.

After the joints were cleaned and caulked, workmen covered the terrace with two layers of muslin. Next, they covered and sealed the muslin with Jennite J-16 and Carbo-Tread. The job was completed on June 28, and Midwest was paid $6,035.25. [64]

When this project was completed, the handsome pebble-concrete terrace had been covered by an ugly, black asphalt. The application of Carbo-Tread and Jennite, while marring the appearance of the terrace, slowed but did not stop seepage into the basement.

H. The 1958 Rehabilitation of the Memorial

1. Western Waterproofing Company Makes a Study & Recommendations

Prange's efforts to check the seepage failed, and in March 1954 a team of engineers from Western Waterproofing Company of St. Louis was called in to study the memorial and make recommendations They found that the structure showed signs of "excessive leakage" through the ceiling over the enclosed circular promenade. Evidence of seepage was seen on the "frieze, entablature, cornice, and parapets." The sheltered wall of the memorial, behind the columns, seemed in "fair condition" as did most of the columns. From the base of the columns to the promenade deck around the building, the graduated base of the structure needed weatherproofing. The retaining walls, balustrade, and coping that formed the base of the structure were in need of extensive work.

To correct the conditions enumerated it was recommended that: (a) all loose mortar in all horizontal and vertical joints be removed; (b) all "horizontal areas, such as the top surface of the cornice, coping stones, horizontal slabs of stone and all other mortar joints indicating any movement or settlement" be stabilized; and (c) all items listed under (b) be packed "full and deep" with Western Pli-A-Gum. After all the loose mortar had been removed from all other mortar joints, the cut-out areas should be replaced with Western's Dilato Expanding Mortar. After the mortar had been replaced, the joints would be weather-proofed with a fine grout coat, well scrubbed in with a small bristle brush. The perimeter of all openings was to be recaulked after all old caulking was removed. The estimated cost of this work was $11,500. [65]

2. The General Assembly Makes an Appropriation

a. The Starrett and Stout Reports

An inspection by Bob Starrett in April resulted in a two fold conclusion--the expansion damage was bad and the cost to effect repairs would be great. He wondered where the money would come from, and who would "catch Doxie when he comes 'flying off the mezzanine' after he sees the estimate?" [66]

Prange in June had Building Engineer Stout investigate the memorial "with respect to . . . repairs to masonry walls as recommended by Western Waterproofing Co. of St. Louis." It was agreed that the work was necessary. If funds were available, Prange would like to schedule the project for the autumn. [67]

b. The 1955 Session of the General Assembly Refuses to Act

No money was available, and Director Cougill in July included a request to the State Budget Director for $23,500 for the George Rogers Clark Memorial in Fiscal Years 1955 and 1956. This sum would be used f or waterproofing, restoration of the Winter murals, and land acquisition. [68] The General Assembly refused to act on this request in 1955.

c. Joice's Report

While the legislature dragged its feet and refused to face the issue, seepage became worse. In April 1956 when Bob Joice inspected the roof, he saw that the caulking on the outside wall was falling out, permitting water to enter around the entire dome. Water, about 12 hours after a rain, would start seeping down the outside granite facing. No leaks were found in the tunnel under the gravel covered built-up roof, either during or after a rain. The tunnel walls, however, showed evidence of "extreme amounts" of condensation at all times. [69] To illustrate what he had observed, Joice prepared a sketch, a copy of which is found in this report.

d. Budget Director Hardwick Approves the Request for $25,000

In a successful effort to goad the General Assembly into action, Chief Engineer Prange on October 17, 1957, forwarded to Director of the Budget William H. Hardwick a copy of the report made by Western Waterproofing Co. As Hardwick could see, the principal work consisted of "pointing and waterproofing the masonry walls of the memorial which included the large rotunda, the walls around the lower terrace, the walls along the roadway of the east bridge approach and the two pylons on the east side of the bridge."

On his May inspection of the structure, Prange had observed that the deterioration of the masonry had progressed. Many of the large granite blocks were beginning to push apart. Leaks in the terrace floor had become so serious that much of the plaster in the basement rooms had again fallen. Water had entered some of the electric conducts, causing short circuits.

Western Waterproofing had estimated that the work would cost $22,655, so Prange requested $25,000. [70]

3. The 1958 Program

a. Proposals are Invited

When it was learned in April 1958 that $25,000 had been appropriated by the General Assembly for repairs to the memorial, the Conservation Department invited bids, to be opened in Indianapolis on June 27, 1958. Interested contractors were informed that all stone joints on the paved promenade; the walls, curbs, and steps leading to the paved promenade; the walls on the east approach to the memorial bridge, steps, base of the flagpole, and pylons; and stone work near the Vigo statue, as well as the steps and walls and two sets of steps at the railroad tracks, were to be tuck-pointed with "non-staining mortar or filled with mortar and then sealed with a synthetic rubber caulking compound." The perimeter of all exterior doors and windows, along with other or protrusions of the Memorial," were to be caulked. Expansion joints in the black-topped promenade (which up to 1952 had been the handsome pebble-concrete terrace) around the building were to be re-sealed. [71]

b. Western Waterproofing Gets the Contract

When the bids were opened and abstracted at 10 a.m., on the 27th, by the Director of Public Works and Supply, it was found that Western Waterproofing's proposal of $18,926 was low. They were accordingly given the contract.

Work was commenced in mid-July. Thiokol, a pliable plastic, was used by Western Waterproofing in the top courses and some of the vertical joints. It was applied with a caulking gun. Layers of latex rubber, glass fabric, Dex-o-Tex, latex grout, and Jennite J-16 were used to seal the joints on the promenade deck, after they had been caulked with successive layers of oakum and caulking compound, volclay (bentonite), and joint sealer. [72] (Drawings showing the method followed by Western Waterproofing in sealing the joints on the promenade deck are found in this report.)

In mid-November 1958, one month after Western Waterproofing had completed the project, Chief Engineer Prange and Bob Starrett chanced to be in Vincennes, when there was a heavy downpour. The next after noon, the 18th, an inspection was made by the custodian and no leaks found. This was the first time since the memorial had become State property on August 22, 1940, that the structure had not leaked. When he relayed this information to Budget Director Hardwick, Director Cougill wrote, "We hope that you will extend to the members of the Bureau our appreciation for their sympathetic understanding of our problem and their recognition of the needs of the Memorial." [73]

In addition to the $18,926 paid Western Waterproofing, the Department of Conservation expended out of the $25,000 allotment, $1,423.70 for replastering the basement rooms and $681.39 for repairs to the electrical installations. The unexpended balance, $3,500, was transferred to the New Harmony account to be expended on restoration projects at that State Park. [74]

I. The Seepage Resumes

The jubilation was premature. Within a few years, water was again seeping through the promenade and approach steps into the basement, flooding the floors, damaging plaster and equipment, and threatening deadly short circuits. Seven years after Western Waterproofing had undertaken to correct the problem and five years after the expiration of the guarantee, Custodian Walter L. Minderman was complaining to Starrett of serious leakage into the men's and women's restrooms. [75]

When informed of this situation, Director Mitchell notified Governor Roger Branigin that "construction problems . . . have been a constant problem at George Rogers Clark State Memorial." Since 1940 thousands of dollars had been spent on the structure in a futile effort to prevent seepage. Although leaks through the outer roof had been stopped, the seepage through the "construction joints" into the basement continued. [76]

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 17-Sep-2001