This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Restoration and Renovation final

The is the final post touring the old Beaver News building. By the way, I have not gotten a complete story on what happened to Beaver News. I do not know if it was the decline in magazine market of new competitors that spurred their closing.

We left off last time upstairs, and we noticed a doorway to the front of the building. Going through the doorway, you enter a maze of little rooms In the first two rooms you encounter, there are dozens of coat hooks lining the dimly lit rooms Then you emerge into a room with some light, and this old sink catches your attention.
These rooms were once the offices of a doctor. Ryan Musch had been given a name, but could not remember it. The second floor of downtown buildings were common spots for the offices of doctors and dentists. When my family moved to Morton, MN in about 1950, there were both a doctor and a dentist on the second floor above my father's drug store. The dentist moved very shortly after we arrived and I do not remember anything about him. The doctor was still there when we left. My father was disappointed in him because he wrote few prescriptions for my father to fill. And I recall a number of trips to the dentist in the next town we lived in, Little Falls, MN. The dentist was on the second floor.

There is light enough to see the sink above because there is a wall of windows and doors between this room and the front of the building.
Going into the room at the front of the building, the most eye-catching aspect of the room are the woodwork, windows, and doors just behind you. There is nothing to see out of the front because the windows have a translucent covering. For some reason there are four doors. I could not figure out how this office would have looked like when it was in use. Was this the area in which the doctor saw patients?
Below is a view of the doors from the other side. (I could not get all four doors in one shot.)
Here we look through the door on the north and see the sink.
Below we are looking though one of the middle doors. There is a little window in the wall but I do not know what it was for. Now we expect a doctor to have a nurse and a receptionist and a variety of support people. but in 1910 or 1920 they might not have had that. So I would expect a receptionist to be on the other side of that window, but that may be extrapolating the present back to the past.
The radiators seem to be in excellent shape. I do not remember any radiators on the first floor or in the big room behind this office, so it might have been that this office had a separate heating system from the rest of the building.

I thought the old light switch was quite interesting. Someone who knows the field could probably give a pretty good estimate of when this was installed.
There is a big crack in the plaster in the plaster on the north wall. You can also see that the window does not seem to be completely closed. Old windows leak a lot of air even when they have been kept up. At one time this wall had wallpaper, but it is so deteriorated that you cannot see an obvious pattern on it.
It appears that at one time there was a stove in this room because there is a vent for it on what appears to be a chimney. (I found something similar when we did some renovations on our century-old house. Working on old buildings is always an adventure.)
As I was leaving, I noticed the bathroom. I could not see what was in it, so I pointed my camera and took a flash picture.  Again, someone who knows the field probably could give a rough estimate of when it was installed.
If you get to see the building after it is restored, think back to these pictures and appreciated the amount of effort that went into fixing this place up.

If anyone remembers anything or knows anything about this office and the doctor who used it, please comment. My guess is that it has not been used for at least sixty years.


Anonymous said...

What a fun series! Thank you! The radiator in that last shot is beautiful. So is the base of the toilet. Love all the details in the old building.

Anonymous said...

Very neat series. This looks like a major undertaking. Maybe around a 2 - 5 year time frame to get done if doing many fixes yourself. It would be very interesting to continue this story with pictures to document the fix up, maybe updating this every 2 months with pictures until done for us to follow along. Great interest.

Maybe someone can help who knows the processes to get grant dollars for them on getting some type of grant money for help to fix this up.

Thanks for this article.

Anonymous said...

The house we live in here in Rensselaer was built in 1910. There is still one of those old light switches on a wall here, but is not operable. Has long since been changed to a normal switch, but the old one was left on the wall.

Anonymous said...

Love the interest from all in the old structures. Great posts regarding the Beaver News building. It is a Romanesque style building, and it will be a real addition and show piece to Rensselaer's downtown.

flatbow said...

The woodwork looks EXACTLY like the wood in our house. Same door casing, same or similar type of wood, and same color. It is a real pain tying to match new wood to this old wood. I think it is yellow pine (longleaf) but today's modern finishes just don't match whatever they used a century ago, plus the old wood has changed color over the decades.

If that toilet is in good shape I bet they could get some money for it. Same with the radiator.