1136 Main St. Restoration - First Floor
During the process of stripping away the many old layers of material that have made up the interior of this building for so long, many of the building's original features were uncovered. On the first floor, some of these features include a tin panel ceiling, red brick walls, glass block windows, hardwood floors, and a large glass atrium centered in the middle of the building, set below what used to be a large second story sky light. Wildcard is committed to restoring as many of the original features of 1136 Main St. as possible while also bringing the building up to code and making it a functional and beautiful work space.
Tin Panel Ceiling
When we acquired the building the original tin panel ceiling was covered over with wood framing, insulation and drywall. You can see some of the framing from the old walls and ceiling in the above pictures.
Different portions of the ceiling were painted different colors where they were once separated by interior floor to ceiling walls. Thought the tin panels themselves were still in good condition, the many layers of paint that coated them had begun to deteriorate in places.
A History of Tin Ceilings
What is a tin ceiling? A tin ceiling is an architectural element, consisting of a ceiling finished with plates of tin with designs pressed into them.
These ceilings were very popular in North America during the late Victorian era which spanned from the mid-19th to early 20th century. Tin ceilings gained popularity in America as an affordable alternative to the fashionable carved plaster work that was commonly used to decorate wealthy European homes. Tin ceilings were not only more affordable, but also ended up providing other architectural benefits. They were incredibly durable, lightweight, easy to clean, and also fireproof -- a valuable characteristic during a time when most home cooking, lighting and heating commonly used open flame.
Tin ceilings were traditionally painted white to give the appearance of hand-carved or molded plaster. They were incorporated into residential living rooms and parlors as well as schools, hospitals and commercial businesses. For Americans, making such decoration available to the middle class majority made tin ceilings very popular in interior design and represented ideas of democracy.
Tin ceilings began to lose their popularity in the 1930s as steel materials became scarce because of the effort to collect scrap metal during WWII. Tin ceilings can still be found in historic buildings across the country and efforts have been made to restore those that remain.
Underneath two layers of old vinyl flooring, the original hardwood floor still remained. After many hours and lot of elbow grease the original floor was finally uncovered...
Considering its age, the moisture build-up in the lower level, and the installation of not one, but two layers of flooring on top of it, the original wood floor of 1136 Main St. was mostly intact. Not surprisingly, portions of this 100+ year old floor were damaged and needed replacing.
Once the damaged portions of the floor are replaced, the entire floor will be sanded down before a sealant is applied. Ultimately, we are very happy that the majority of the original hardwood floor is still intact and we look forward to its complete restoration.
(Pictures to come!)
According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, "Wood is the most common material used for floors in historic houses and commercial buildings. High-quality and long-lasting woods such as oak, maple and fir were used for floors because they are both durable and attractive. An original wood floor is a significant character-defining feature in a historic structure." The floor at 1136 Main St. is made up of 2 inch Maple slats.
We are very happy to have such a defining feature of this historical building in tact and we look forward to seeing it restored to its full beauty.
During the process of stripping the interior of the building, features like the windows pictured below were uncovered. As you might have noticed from these pictures, the building is very dark without electric lighting. Almost all of the light in the photos below came from the single open back door.
This structure was built in 1900, almost 3 or 4 decades before electric lighting would be made available in Wisconsin, so it was no surprise when multiple window wells were uncovered. Before electric lighting, buildings relied primarily on natural daylight provided by windows and light from oil lamps and candles in the early mornings and late evenings. That was it.
The picture on the left shows a square glass block window. Glass block windows were originally developed in the early 1900s to help provide more natural light in factories. Two of these windows are located to each side of the exit at the rear of the building. The glass block appear to still be in tact, so if they are undamaged and stable enough, we hope to save this feature of the building.
The pictures on the right shows the two windows set in the west wall, toward the rear of the building, facing the alley way located between 1136 and 1126 Main St. At some point in time these windows were bricked over from the outside and walled up on the inside. We hope to open these windows back up, allowing more natural light into the building to help brighten the space once again.
The word atrium (also called 'cavaedium') is Latin and refers to an open central court.
The atrium was common in ancient Roman architecture, in both public buildings and private homes, with the primary purpose of bringing light into interior spaces during the time before electric lighting came into use. They are still used today to allow natural light into the interiors of buildings.
In the images below, all of the old glass panels in wooden frame of the atrium panels have been removed for restoration purposes.
There are 2 skylights on the roof of the building, but both were totally covered over by previous owners. We hope to open up the skylight located above the atrium and restore to is full glory.
Work continues to be made and more pictures will be added as progress is made.