This is a hard one to see because of all the trees in the way, but the Sage Chapel Restoration project has begun. A perimeter fence has been setup, along with full scaffolding around the work zone, and the slate roof is being carefully removed for re-roofing. The work on the exterior will focus on restoring the slate roof in certain areas, roof flashing, and brick and stone masonry that has weathered over time, and the interior work will see the repair of the apse window. More details about the project and history from a previous post here, with photos from earlier this year.
Cornell University has hired a design team that has assessed the current conditions of Sage Chapel in order to carry out a large preservation effort. The primary motivators for the project are the conditions of the slate roof, roof flashing, and brick and stone masonry. The lead architect, John Milner Associates specialize in historic preservation, the same group that has assessed and designed the repairs for the Washington Monument, which will be reopening May 12th this year. Robert Silman Associates has been working on the structural engineering aspects, along with Princeton Engineering Group for mechanical engineering needs.
The original Chapel was built in 1873, and was designed by Reverend Charles Babcock, one of the founding members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and Cornell’s first Professor of Architecture. It was the first non-denominational chapel built on a college campus in the United States, a gift from Henry William Sage, a lumber-magnate and early benefactor of Cornell. The Chapel has undergone four separate additions, with the Memorial Chapel addition in 1882, the 1898 addition, the 1903 addition, and the 1940 addition (pictured above), all of which maintained a design consistent with the original building.
The planned work is fully detailed in the application to the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission. The design team has documented areas where the ribbon slate is nearing the end of its service life, necessitating replacement, flashing and seams on the roof (especially rake and gable ends) that must be reconstructed, and deteriorated brick and stone masonry on the memorial chapel. There are also a few stained glass windows that have gap seams to repair, work to be done by stained glass conservator E.S. Taylor Studio. Several items will require repainting decorative finishes, work to be done by John Tiedemann, Inc.