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This paper examines the causes of deterioration (often the result of well-intentioned preservation efforts such as sandblasting, silicone treatment, and parging), current conditions, and efforts underway to restore the integrity of the red sandstone facing of the Burlington Free Library in Burlington, Iowa. The Library, which was constructed 1896–1898 of Michigan red sandstone, is typical, both in construction and durability, of a vast array of similar structures made of sandstone throughout the end of the last century and the early years of the present century. Existing deterioration (rising damp, spalling, powdering, and efflorescence) is quite typical of such buildings. Possible and recommended treatments should prove helpful to those facing similar conditions. It is hoped a new sensitivity will be gained toward a material which, unlike Indiana limestone, cannot be neatly identified and categorized both as to its properties nor to its treatments.
historic structure, sandstone, material conservation, visual inspection
Architectural conservator, Iowa City, IA