Kaminski House to remove brick, repair rot

  • Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Taylor Griffith/South Strand News The brick facade on three sides of the Kaminski House Museum is causing moisture damage inside the building. Soon the Friends of the Kaminski House will remove the facade.

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After a four-year process, the Friends of the Kaminski House are now accepting bids for repair work to be done to the Kaminski House Museum.

There is a moisture problem within the house, causing cracked walls, peeling paint, mildew and mold.

“In 2010, the board and then-director became aware of moisture in the house,” said Friends president Elaine Waddell.

Several contractors, architects and engineers examined the building and in 2012 gave reports on the museum, which collectively determined the “mechanical systems” inside and the brick façade on three outside walls of the house were causing the damage.

“The bottom line was the brick created an envelope, so the moisture was being trapped between the brick façade and the house,” Waddell said.

The house was originally sided with cypress clapboard, but the Kaminski family covered the back and sides of the home with a brick façade when they remodeled the house in the late 1940s.

In November 2013 the Friends sought approval from the city Architectural Review Board to remove the brick. They were approved, and began collecting funds for the project, including a $25,000 matching grant from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and a $10,000 grant from the North Eastern Strategic Alliance.

“The removal of brick is not the expensive part,” Waddell said. “The expense will be in the repairs that may follow, such as replacing all of the windows.”

She said the expense of the project could vary greatly because “we won’t know what needs to be done until the brick comes off.”

Waddell mentioned a simple sanding and painting of the original siding, to milling new boards, are all in the range of possibilities.

The Friends have been working with Michael Walker, of Tych & Walker Architects, on the project, but they are also opening a Request for Proposal period to select a general contractor for the project.

Only contractors who attend a required pre-bid on July 16 will be eligible to submit a bid for the project, due on July 24.

Once the selected contractor removes the brick, the underlying problems will need to be addressed and resolved quickly to maintain the integrity of the museum.

Waddell said emergency fundraising efforts may be required to make any necessary repairs.

Museum Executive Director Robin Gabriel also mentioned replacing the HVAC system in the home with a museum-quality system to protect the artifacts inside and the structure itself.

Inside, the effects of the moisture problem are easily seen.

Peeling paint, cracked walls and brick and reoccurring mildew are all visible to the average visitor.

“The cracking shows it’s disintegrating,” said Gabriel.

From working with several preliminary contractors, engineers and architects, the Friends know that the damage is worse on the Front Street side of the house, as it appears the brick was adhered directly to the clapboard siding.

On the rear of the house, near the river, a hole in the brick shows an arm’s-length gap between the brick and the clapboard.

For these reasons, the museum administration is expecting a variation of damage intensity.

But regardless of the extent of the damage, Gabriel said, once the brick is removed, the museum will move forward with any and all necessary changes.

“We don’t feel like there is a point that we wouldn’t move forward. The whole mission of the Friends is preserving a future for the past. We don’t even consider ‘when is enough, enough?’”

The Friends have adopted a Sept. 30 goal to get the brick removed.

“We’re very excited, and we can’t wait to get started,” Waddell said.

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