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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Preservation in Progress at the Sam Bell Maxey House

by Lynn Deal, Sam Bell Maxey House Site Manager

These past two months have seen much activity at the Sam Bell Maxey House State Historic Site. While the physical aspects of the current work aren’t immediately evident, preparations are well under way for a successful exterior preservation project. The grand finale of the current scope of work will be a new paint job on the home’s exterior.
The Maxey’s recent projects include deep soil samples; lead and asbestos tests; development of site signage, outreach, programs and exhibits; and a conservation assessment of artifacts. All have been concurrent with daily site operations, which include providing tours to the public.
Soil samples

The current work, including the exterior preservation and paint, is part of a larger museum industry component. It addresses immediate cosmetic and foundation needs and work that is integral to the long-term success and sustainability of the home as a prominent Texas and National Landmark.
Currently, the Maxey is undergoing an architectural phase, where the various components of the design and building are compiled and reviewed as a whole prior to the construction process. Within this planning stage, the operational, interpretive, curatorial, maintenance and architectural needs are considered in relation to the exterior work. Once this stage is complete, the construction work will be reviewed, approved and contracted. This careful planning is taking place now so the physical labor can be carried out in a timely and productive manner without adverse effects on the rest of the Maxey House, its artifacts or the grounds.
Specialists and staff meeting at the Maxey House to discuss preservation plan

The very nature of a house museum requires interdisciplinary parties to address a variety of needs every day. Through a construction process, such as the one taking place at the Maxey House, specialists must take time to work through the different angles and potential issues, ensuring construction will not be detrimental to the fragile museum environment.
Additionally, a specialized understanding is extremely important to the stewardship of this or any other historic site. In a nutshell, the preliminary work that is currently being achieved will ultimately provide clear, well-defined decisions that will preserve this fine old residence on Church Street for generations yet to come.

**The Sam Bell Maxey House is located in Paris at the corner of Church and Washington streets in the Texas Lakes Trail Region

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