CLEANING, IRON STAIN REMOVAL, AND SURFACE REPAIR OF ARCHITECTURAL MARBLE AND CRYSTALLINE LIMESTONE: THE METROPOLITAN CLUB
FRANK G. MATERO, & ALBERTO A. TAGLE
1. Primary documentation for the construction of the building is found in the McKim, Mead, and White Papers (boxes 79–82) in the New-York Historical Society. Organization and indexing of the Metropolitan Club papers by subject (or trade), firm (or artist), and date were undertaken as a pilot project for the eventual reorganization of all the McKim, Mead, and White Papers and funded by a gift from the trustees of the Restoration Committee of the Metropolitan Club.
2. By 1891 the firm had designed four major clubhouse buildings: the Freundschaft Club, New York City (1885–89), the Algonquin Club, Boston (1886–89), and the Deutscher Verein (1889–91) and the Century Association (1889–91), both New York City. Unlike these earlier examples, the Metropolitan Club was larger, more costly, and constructed entirely of stone. Both White and McKim were charter members before their selection as the club's architects. White had designed numerous buildings for founding members and had many close friends among the members.
3. Sources for the elaborate facade of the Century Association have been attributed to several northern Italian palazzi, specifically Palazzo Canossa, Verona, Palazzo Dati, Cremona, and Palazzo Malvezzi-Campeggi, Bologna. The overall plan of the Metropolitan Club has been attributed to Raphael's Palazzo Pandofini, Florence (Roth 1983, 143–45). The Century Association was designed for a membership devoted to the literary and visual arts. Located mid-block, surrounded by contiguous buildings with only a single elevation set flush to the street, the building has a facade articulated and pierced with a deep vestibule, loggia, and windows of varied configuration, its cornice crowned with an elaborate balustrade. The Metropolitan Club was commissioned by New York's powerful financial elite. It solidly commanded a corner lot on Fifth Avenue and 60th Street, detached from its neighbors and fronting on Central Park. Its three principal elevations were restrained and severe in their heavily rusticated basement, plain and broad carvings, and deeply projecting cornice.
4. Bids received from the country's major stone dealers from New York, Baltimore, Worcester, Philadelphia, and Vermont proposed several different stone choices, all light-colored marbles, limestones, and granites, including Tuckahoe marble (New York), Beaver Dam marble (Maryland), Lee marble (Massachusetts), southern marble (unidentified), buff Indiana limestone, Milford Pink granite (Massachusetts), Somes Sound Pink granite (?), and Scotch white sandstone.
5. “We have taken great pains to give you very white stone for the lower story… . While many of the pieces which we would furnish would not show color, it would be impossible to furnish a job of this size promptly and have every piece entirely free from it… . We wished you to understand that many of the pieces would be practically perfectly white, and others would contain more or less color, and we were well aware of the fact by using the very best of our layers for white faced building marble for the lower story, that we would be obliged to send stone containing more color as the building increased in height; as the higher you get the color is less noticeable” (Vermont Marble Co. to McKim, Mead, and White, December 23, 1892) (McKim, Mead, and White Papers, New-York Historical Society, New York). Examination of the upper stone ashlar does reveal a higher precentage of gray-veined marble than the lower courses. This observation was reiterated years later by Egerton Swartwout, an archiect with McKim, Mead, and White, who recalled the situation during construction: “The foundations were in before our drawings were finished. Had some trouble with the marble. Quarry gave out or something, and they had to use stock from a different quarry for the plain ashlar. Looks all right now, but I wonder if it will show when it is weathered, different quarries weather differently you know” (Typescript, n.d., McKim, Mead, and White Papers).
6. The crystalline limestone known as “Beaver Dam” was quarried in the Piedmont Plateau 15 miles north of Baltimore near Cockeysville, Maryland. By 1898, the Beaver Dam Marble Co., operating the old Baker the Connely quarries, which originally supplied the stone for the columns of the U.S. Capitol in 1859–61, was the only large operator in the area (Mathews 1898, 176).
7. Other 19th-century buildings in New York suggest a mixture of similar stone from different quarries during construction was not uncommon. Such combinations were often intended to be visually indistinguishable; however, the effects of differential weathering often revealed the stones' differing provenance. A good example can be observed at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York, where the same mixture of Maryland and New York crystalline limestones exists.
8. “We are aware the stone in the basement of 5th Avenue and North side is not first class in color and was only used by us to hurry up the work; the stone for the front and court will be the very best the quarry can produce” (Mann to McKim, Mead, and White, June 10, 1892, McKim, Mead, and White Papers).
1 APPENDIX A
Ammonium citrate, dibasic: crystal, practical or technical grade
Ammonium hydroxide: practical or technical grade
Glycerine: U.S.P./FCC grade
Attapulgite clay: such as “Attapulgite 1890,” available from Englehard Minerals and Chemicals Corp., Menlo Park, Edison, N.J. 08817
Kaolinite clay: such as Kaolin, available from Georgia Kaolin Co., Inc., 433 N. Broad St., Elizabeth, N.J. 07207
Poultice Formulation (All Parts by Volume) Liquid component:
4 parts saturated solution of ammonium citrate [60.5 g/100 ml of potable water at 25°C (77°F)]
1 part glycerine
Dry component (a combination of clays was found to provide optimum working properties for horizontal and vertical surfaces):
2 parts attapulgite clay
1 part kaolinite clay
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FRANK MATERO is associate professor of architecture in the graduate program in historic preservation, Graudate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, and director of the Archiectural Conservation Laboratory. He is also a lecturer at the Internationa Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) in Rome. From 1981 to 1990 he was on the faculty of Columbia University, from 1981 as assistant professor of architecture and from 1985 as director of the Center for Preservation Research, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. He received his M.S. from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation of Columbia University in 1978 and attended the certificate program in conservation at the Conservation Center at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, from 1981 to 1984. His teaching and research are focused on the history of building technology and the conservation of historic building materials, in particular on masonry and architectural surface finishes. He is a Professional Associate of AIC and co-chair of the Research and Technical Studies Group. He is also a member of the Advisory Committee of the International Masonry Institute. Address: Graduate School of Fine Arts, 115 Meyerson Hall, Philadelphia, Pa. 19104–6311.
ALBERTO A. TAGLE received his education as a Ph.D. chemist in Germany. He has worked in research as an analytical chemist and since 1982 in conservation science. He has taught at universities in Germany and Cuba and as a lecturer at conservation courses cosponsored by UNESCO, ICCROM, and the Ministry of Culture in Cuba. He joined the graduate program in historic preservation at the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. Since 1992 he has been head of the analytical laboratory at the Henry Francis due Pont Winterthur Museum. He teaches in the art conservation department at the University of Delaware and is visiting lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania. Address: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Del. 19735.