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Belmont College students continue work on Bradfield building

By CATHRYN STANLEY Editor Published: June 28, 2017 12:00 AM
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Students in the Building Preservation/Restoration (BPR) program at Belmont College continued restoration work at a historic Barnesville landmark las week that began over a year ago.

In February of 2016 Barnesville resident Denny Wees, who is the stain glass restoration instructor of the BPR, approached Ohio Hills Health Services, current occupant of the historic Bradfield building, about having the students repair and restore one of the eight stain glass windows as their spring term volunteer field project.

Last week and again this week nine students in the 64-hour Community Field Lab portion of the program, under the direction of program instructors, replaced three restored plate glass windows, while a fourth was being restored in the lab at Belmont College. They will also strip and repaint the frames and will refinish a door to the back stairs of the building, so that both match. A Wheeling Company will be hired to re-weld the iron gate on the door.

"We are trying to preserve what is here," said OHHS Community Service Director Lana Phillips. She noted that a special color of mortar was being ordered to match the sandstone.

BPR instructor Cathie Senter said students had a change in their schedule and chose to dedicate time to the Bradfield building, calling it the best building in Barnesville and feeling that it "needed them."

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Student Billie Taylor of Cadiz, who was in her second semester of her first year in the two-year program, said the Bradfield building was her first "real world" project. She explained the five-step process to scrape the old paint and silicone off the window frames, careful to work away from the sadstone, and apply conditioner so that the new paint could be applied.

Started in 1989, BPR is one of the oldest and most recognized programs of its kind in the nation. The program includes classroom education, workshops where students apply that classroom knowledge, and field work where they practice the techniques learned in the workshops on real-world preservation projects.

Phillips said OHHS covers the cost of materials, but the donation of the labor from the BPR students and staff will save the non-profit health care center thousands of dollars. Vibrations from heavy truck traffic, combined with time, have caused the glass to loosen in all the windows. Wees has been restoring each of the large stain glass windows, original to the 1891 building which is in the Barnesville National Register Historic District, on his own time. Each takes three to four months to complete. Students have been working on the smaller stain glass windows in the classroom lab.

The building was constructed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, popular at the time and easily identified by the large stone arches over windows and doors. Jeff Britton, Executive Director for Ohio Hills Health Services, said a stain glass expert he consulted in Pittsburgh told him the glass in the eight windows was imported from Italy in the late 1800s. Britton also said that Joe Bradfield told him the windows were covered with wooden panels on the inside sometime prior to 1955 when Bradfield began working at the bank. As the windows are restored, the wooden panels will be removed and the windows can be enjoyed the way the were originally designed to be, with the light shining through.

OHHS purchased the Bradfield building in October 2006 after Wesbanco vacated it in September of that year, consolidating its three Barnesville banking facilities into one location at 230 E. Main St.. On June 4, 2007, OHHS relocated its Barnesville Family Health Center and administration office, and thus, became the most recent business to occupy the former G.C. Murphy Building and historic Bradfield Building.


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