Wilder step renovations delayed due to adverse weather conditions

by Margo Lipschultz

It may have been the rainy Ohio weather that caused Physical Plant Director Eugene Matthews to begin refinishing the leaky steps of the Wilder porch during Fall break, but it was the blizzard that hit Montana last week which caused the delay in completing the renovation.

The water-proofing membrane sealing the Wilder steps had worn off, posing a threat to the snack bar's food storage room since the steps, located above it, may have leaked water down into the area.

"The plan was to put on a new membrane while students were away for Fall break," Matthews said. "We put the basecoat down-basecoats are always gray-and then we tried to pick a tan paint color that would closely match the old color of the steps. Where we got screwed up was when we ordered the paint from a factory in Montana, and then there was a huge blizzard and the paint was stuck in Montana until the Monday everyone returned from break."

In order to allow students access to Wilder Main, contractors decided to work on only half of the steps at one time. Matthews expects the $5,000 project to be completed by today, a week later than anticipated.

"Actually, it's been fine. I haven't heard too many complaints from students," Matthews said.

The North steps and platform of the Bibbins wing of the Conservatory are also in need of renovation due to water leakage, though plans for reconstruction have not yet been finalized by the Architectural Review Committee (ARC).

"The steps are elevated, so when moisture gets underneath it can leak into the TIMARA studios. I was thinking we could remove the porch and do something else altogether, but the ARC said that wouldn't be consistent with the original design. It's ARC's job to make sure the work we do maintains the design and integrity of the College buildings," Matthews said.

Though ideas for possible renovations were submitted to ARC in October by an architect familiar with the original Conservatory designer, no finalized plans have yet been made.

"For the interim period, we nailed down funky-looking wooden boards over the steps," Matthews said. "One way or another we might have to wait until spring because we're getting into cold weather now. But I'd love to get the steps fixed up in time for Commencement."

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Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 7, October 31, 1997

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