Light Station Restoration Diary
December, 2001
As written by the people working on the restoration.
Unless otherwise identified, the diary author is Linda Nenn,
co-chair of the Restoration Project


December 5, 2001

St. Nick is coming tonight! If you're not of Luxembourg or Catholic descent, you may have nary a clue what I'm talking about. When my family moved to Port in 1959, the arrival of St. Nicholas and Black Peter meant nothing to my parents. My fifth grade, public school teacher, Miss Eidenberger (a good Luxembourger name) told us to bring a stocking to school as St. Nick might visit our classroom on the eve of the 6th of Dec. When I told my Mom, she said it was weeks 'til Christmas, so there was plenty of time. As a consequence, I was the only kid without a stocking tacked to my desk. Probably scarred me for life. Years later I went to the library and read up on St. Nicholas. Turns out he roamed Turkey, not Luxembourg, leaving a bit of candy at the door of deserving children. Black Peter, a later addition to the folk tale, leaves a lump of coal for those not quite as nice. I heard St. Nick and Black Peter were out and about this past weekend in downtown Port. Jumped the gun by a few days, but that's understandable as they travel on foot rather than by sleigh.

Now, on to the Light Station.

This Saturday, the 8th, the hoards are descending. Habitat for Humanity is sharing their volunteers, possibly 15 to 20, and we're set to install our new casement windows and clapboard siding. Habitat can't officially work on a project such as ours, but the Ozaukee chapter doesn't have a house project yet, so some of their volunteers have offered to help us. Joe Zuraw, a carpenter by trade and employee at Omniquip/Skytrak, will be in charge of the window work. He's bringing a Skytrak on site. These are the coolest forklifts around. Split axle and bright orange. Should be 5 skilled carpenters, if we're lucky, to cut the beveled siding corners and show us how to nail it in place.

Ron Mans or Rick will be in charge of hanging drywall on the first floor. If Ardy shows up, I'd like her to supervise a group painting the bedrooms on the second floor.

Nancy M. and Mary Flierl are in charge of coffee and donuts. The volunteers are bringing their own lunches, so all we really need now is nice weather.

Speaking of weather, boy have we been blessed. It reached 60 yesterday. With no heat in the building, this mild weather has allowed Ron, Rick, Pat, Loeschel and me to continue working. Mind you we're seldom in the building at the same time. It seems one of us shows up just as another is leaving. Loeschel continues to paint the casement windows. After Ardy deemed my first choice of primer color "putrid," I was a bit shy about selecting a finish coat. Yes, the acting president of the Port Washington Historical Society actually said, "putrid." Rick later suggested I try a lighter shade of putrid. Talk about "heavy is the head that wears the crown." But, I knew I had to eventually make a choice, so I picked up samples of historic paints, gave it much thought and even dreamt horrible color dreams, and finally made the executive decision. Without a glance backward, the color I've selected is "Doubtful." Yes, that's actually a legitimate Victorian color. I figure how can I go wrong. Somebody asks, "Is that a shade of white?" I answer, "It's Doubtful." Is that the finish color? Same answer, "It's Doubtful." Etc.

Bits and Pieces: Ron and I picked up an insulation blower and 24 bags of insulation from Home Depot last Thursday. Then spent 4 hours blowing it into the attic. I got to stand outside and feed the beast. Ron had the enviable job of directing the insulation between the floor joists and then into the Edgar Allan Poe room. I've attached a photo of the entrance to this room. The photo comes courtesy of the Bormans who visited us many moons ago and snapped Rick worming his way in. Even with the face mask on, I wouldn't have traded places with Ron for anything. We'll probably add more insulation at a later date. 24 bags was all we could fit into Ron's pickup and my van.

Greisch worked on the heating plant last week but haven't returned so far this week. The boilers are set and most of the second floor piping is in. Possibly they're taking advantage of the nice weather and working on new construction jobs. Or, they're holding off as Ardy and Doug had them disconnect one the old radiators so they could scrape off the old paint and repaint the radiator. I'll check today what the status is.

Building inspector, Dennis, stopped by yesterday. Just checking I guess. Even made a comment about the highrise next door. Nothing pro or con, just a comment. When the city hall renovation is completed, he'd like some historic Port photos to hang in the entrance to the public works offices. Told him we have hundreds at the Research Center. He pointed out we'll need fire doors in the boiler room and tool room in the basement. Just one more thing to add to the list. Right now we're looking at about $22,000 for 5 panel doors and fire doors. I've got to get on the stick and try to find a door company that give us a deal. So far, to get donations, I've offered my first born, a pound of flesh, my kingdom and my blood. Not much more to give.

Dan McC: I've called several times, but can't seem to pin J&H down regarding the A/C system quote. Total Comfort, the original contractor to give us a quote has called several times to find out our decision as to contractor. They're willing to consider a counter quote if J & H comes in lower than them. We have to address this issue now as the ductwork has to be put in place before we complete hanging the drywall on the first floor. The return vent will be placed between stud work. If I don't hear anything in the next 48 hours, I'm recommending we go with Total Comfort. They've installed many of the SpacePak systems and also include their own workmanship warranty along with the manufacturer's. J & H was shown the Total Comfort quote, so its only fair that I allow TC a chance to reconsider their offer.

Ron M. has removed the old casement windows, largely by himself. This will allow the Saturday installers to proceed more quickly with the new installations. He's also framed in the rough openings and torn the old siding off around the openings. As in the rest of the Light Station, the walls of the sunrooms had no insulation. We'll address that need from the inside. We'll have to remove some of the old tongue and grove siding, but we've got to get some insulation into the walls. Unfortunately the wood runs horizontally rather than vertically, so we'll probably cover it with drywall. Currently there's a cheap paneling over the wood and old exterior homasote siding.

All of the exterior pine siding needs to be primed before its applied to the building. Much, much, much siding. Jim F., Dee and Allison M., Beth T. and Nancy S. began the priming, but I'd continued priming last week and this week. So much wood, so little time. Yesterday afternoon Ron and I had a power priming afternoon. Quality control slipped a mite, but it is only the prime coat. I'd roll from one end, Ron from the other. Flip the plank and repeat the process, then lean the board against the wall or another board. Messy to say the least and rather hard on the back, bending over. I believe my crowning achievement was that moment when I dropped one of the boards on my head. Do you know how stiff your hair becomes when oil based primer is used in lieu of a styling spray? Fortunately white paint and blonde hair sort of go together.

Rick's part in this painting marathon is to stop by after work and carry the finished boards down the stairs and into the garage. As some of the random lengths are 16' long, this is no small task when trying to navigate two doorways and a stairwell.

Last week Mary F. and I, with the input of anyone at the Research Center, put together a trifold Light Station appeal brochure and got it to the printer. No small feat as she was at the research center and I was homebound as my van was at the car doctor. End result, during December, the brochure will be inserted in approx. 7,000 bank statements courtesy of the Port Washington State Bank. Heritage Printing did the printing job for only $250. Howie and Kay Keller, of Heritage donated about half of the regular cost. Hopefully we'll get a decent response as our Restoration Fund is down to tuppences.

New flooring has been milled by Lange Millwork. Scheduled to be delivered next week. I'll call Randy Lange and see if he can warehouse it for awhile. Otherwise we'll have to store it in the generator building.

Amy Martens, a student at Lakeland College, Sheboygan County, and member of the College's Habitat group has indicated that some of the group might be able to help us after Semester Finals. Thanks, Amy. If any of you can stop by this Saturday, you can at least see our project. Otherwise, give me a heads up after the holidays.

Architect Kathleen O'D and husband David stopped by the Saturday after Thanksgiving to see the progress we've made. She's been in contact with Luxembourg. Sent me the revised timeline and will continue to forward cc. of email and faxes she receives from Luxembourg.

Well, I'd better head out to check on the plumbers and pick up my paint roller. Miles to roll before I sleep. The sun is out, the daisies are up, the paint came out of my hair, I had to wake up calls before 8 a.m. and my twin 7 year old nieces are coming over after school. Things don't get much better than this in Wisconsin in December.

Hope St. Nick brings you all candy instead of coal tonight.


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This page updated Wednesday, January 23, 2002