Keeping History Above Water: Charleston 2021

See you live in Charleston for our first back in-person conference from June 13-15, 2021!

Join Amy Elizabeth Uebel, Conservator, EverGreene Architectural Arts and
Marissa Hershon, Curator of Ca’ d’Zan and Decorative Arts, The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art to discuss

Preservation Work at Ca’ d’Zan: A Case Study in Waterproofing a 20th-century Historic House
Tuesday, June 15 at 8:20 A.M.

Abstract Summary

Ca’ d’Zan, the winter residence of John and Mable Ringling in Sarasota, Florida, has been revered as a Mediterranean Revival architectural gem since it was completed in 1926. Designed by New York architect, Dwight James Baum, the mansion is best-known for its distinctive Venetian Gothic-inspired details, including colorful windows and architectural terra cotta. A major attraction on Florida’s southwest coast, Ca’ d’Zan has been susceptible to moisture-related problems since its construction. The thin masonry walls, harsh marine environment, and periods of benign neglect allowed for the terra cotta, brick, and stucco to become heavily saturated with little ability to fully dry. Restoration campaigns, including most recently in the late 1990s, have attempted to address these concerns with varying levels of success. Renewed curatorial and archival study of surviving designs and related ephemera will inform future restoration projects and advance highly localized work at Ca’ d’Zan.

In consultation with EverGreene Architectural Arts, the Ringling undertook major efforts in the summer of 2020 to address the continual water intrusion with the goal of sealing the building’s envelope on the west-facing façade. Nearly one hundred years of unnamed rainstorms have allowed the building envelope to remain heavily saturated, causing structural damage and deterioration of interior decorative elements. Work included repointing and repairing terracotta, stabilizing the degraded structural columns, and restoring windows framing the Mezzanine. Investigating the areas of water ingress and resulting structural instability in the Court corners has led to important discoveries about the structure’s 1920s construction methods and a better understanding of the curtain wall system on the West facade. Sharing the results of this case study will shed light on the challenges unique to Ca’ d’Zan’s early twentieth-century structural design in a harsh marine environment where it has been susceptible to long-term water intrusion and saturation.

About the 2021 Conference: 

Keeping History above Water: Charleston will build upon the past successes of KHAW events in other cities. With the theme “Communities in Action,” this workshop is specifically not about climate change, per se, but rather what communities are doing to ameliorate climate-related water impacts on historic resources in Charleston and across the United States. The workshop will feature a keynote panel, morning presentations, and afternoon tours, site visits, and hands-on projects that allow attendees to experience how stakeholders are taking on water-related preservation challenges. The keynote panel will discuss the climate/sea level challenges people in the Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor are facing, how these forces impact their tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and how those challenges are being met.

This is the sixth iteration of Keeping History Above Water and is a partnership between the Clemson Design Center at Charleston’s graduate programs in Historic Preservation and Resilient Urbanism in collaboration with the Newport Restoration Foundation.

Note: This will be an in-person conference, and due to COVID precautions we are capping registration at 150 attendees. In order to secure a slot, please use this link to register at your earliest convenience.