SOMETHING FROM EUREKA SPRINGS ARKANSAS
THE CARNEGIE LIBRARY LEAK
In 1999 an F3 tornado ripped through the Governor's Mansion and MacArthur park Historic Districts in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, and I became a very busy restoration tech.
It also ripped through non-historic neighborhoods but I didn't work there.
When the dust settled, I ended up in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I guess my wife decided to spend what money I'd made that year on a Cabin in the Woods.
What happened afterward was that I got used to doing some very interesting and strange jobs; nothing like what I'd done in Little Rock.
When one of the Library Ladies called me about a leak, I met her and saw a huge dark stain on the plaster of the front wall of the Carnegie Library, one of the finest buildings in Eureka Springs. And since Eureka is filled with fine stone buildings, that's saying a lot. Eureka Springs looks like a mix of San Francisco, the Ozark Mountains, and Disneyland. Or maybe it doesn't; you'd have to go there to see. Built around many springs that flow from the Ozark Limestone, it has no streets meeting at right angles, no flat surfaces, and no traffic lights. The Basin Park Hotel has at least eight floors, and each one is a ground floor. That's how steep this town is. It sports about two thousand residents, many of which live out in the County and not in the city. And a city it is, as is evidenced by the fine restaurants and art galleries and the fact that it swells to 60,000 tourists on a big weekend in summer or fall.
But the Carnegie had a major leak and the plaster was stained and disintegrating.
"We don't understand where it comes from!" the Library Ladies chimed.
"Of course you don't, " I soothed . "You're Library Ladies. Your job is to educate and guide. I'm the Old House Doctor. Let me get my stethoscope."
I didn't need a stethoscope; I'd already seen the downspout on the other side of the wall, just outside where the leak was. I surmised it was clogged, and it needed cleaning.
But, but, BUT!
Once I got up on the roof, I found a very different problem for which a solution had to be invented.
This building has interior gutters, or box gutters. That means they can't be seen from the street or down below and are behind the front wood trim. This also means that when they leak, they can to a TON of damage because the water comes through the trim, down the inside walls, and leaves a trail of destruction wherever it goes.
And though I don't remember how I got to the top. I certainly remember what I found.
In addition to the leak, there was a hideous monster living in the downspout.
Then the work started in earnest.