Thursday, April 20, 2023

Asbestos Removed From Veblen House

Over the past few weeks, asbestos was successfully removed from Veblen House. This critical step in repurposing the house was financed by Princeton municipality. Princeton's open space manager, Cindy Taylor, was our contact person throughout the process. A crew from the Lilich firm showed up Monday, April 10, to start prepping the house for the removal. They built an extended entryway for changing in and out of protective gear, 
and covered the wood floors and paneling with plastic. FOHW had worked over the course of many months prior to prepare the house so that none of the oak trim and paneling would be damaged. In particular, volunteer Scott Sillars put many hours into removing trim and covering the wood floors with RamBoard. The contractor could then come in and strip the walls and ceilings of the asbestos-containing fiberboard. We also identified six heat ducts wrapped with asbestos, and made them accessible for the contractors to remove. 
During removal, these long tubes extended out from the house--part of the ventilator system. The aim, apparently, was to release filtered air some distance away from the house, through holes cut in the ends of the tubes. 
Many bags of asbestos-containing material emerged from the house during the week. Most of the asbestos was in a "skin coat" on the walls and ceilings, requiring the removal of the old fiberboard. Between the studs was lots of an early form of insulation called Balsam Wool. Unfortunately, that, too, needed to be removed, even though it didn't contain asbestos, due to a risk of contamination from asbestos in the air during the operation.

During breakdown one week later, a crew member stuffed that last few bags into the back of the dumpster, to be taken to a special disposal site that accepts asbestos-containing materials.
The project was aided by dry weather.
We weren't supposed to go in until the town had signed off on some documents, so here's a peek from outside through the plexiglass windows. Clean is the scene.

The last step in asbestos removal is usually to paint all exposed wood with white paint, but FOHW convinced the town to have clear sealant applied instead, the better to see any writing or other clues to the house's history inside the walls. 
Three members of the crew posed for a photo. Lasko, in the middle, is the supervisor.

Thanks to the town and Cindy Taylor for all their work and support in bringing this important step to fruition.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

This Old Brick--What Do the Initials Mean?

While prepping the Veblen House for asbestos removal, I removed a grate on the wall and found this very clearly initialed old brick. Our carpenter, Robb Geores, had introduced me to the meaningfulness of stampings on old bricks, so I knew to give these initials their due. There's a substantial compendium of brick initials online, but it didn't include SRBC. 

Back to Robb for his take, and sure enough, he had a possible answer:
I think that might stand for “ South River Brick Company.” I’m not sure, but it may. There was once a company in South River N J that made enameled bricks. It’s near the town that I come from, Sayreville n j which is known for Brick Manufacturing as well. Bricks from Sayreville are embossed S&F B C. ( Sayre and Fisher Brick Company).


The brick was inside the opening for a duct that led to or from the furnace along the edge of the chimney. The orange marking dates back to around 2017, when Mercer County hired a company to mark where asbestos--coated heat ducts could be found in the house. That was part of the county's process that would have led to demolition of the house if not for the Friend of Herrontown Woods' successful effort to save it. 

Also in this photo are two square-shaped impressions in the wall, behind which is the chimney. It will be interesting to see what's behind those two squares.