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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fulton Mansion Prepares for Upcoming Preservation Work

By Ellen Garrett Colfax, AIA, Historic Sites Architect

In preparation for a major preservation project on the Fulton Mansion State Historic Site in Rockport, John Volz, AIA, LEED AP of Volz and Associates, Inc. and Pat Sparks, PE and Jeff Kobes of Sparks Engineering performed investigations and testing in May to determine the location and extent of structural damage due to moisture penetration within the walls of the mansion, as well as the locations of water infiltration within the basement.

Investigations included infrared radiation thermography (IRT), a nondestructive technique to detect areas of moisture intrusion in the walls and roof. These investigations were achieved using a hand-held thermal imager. The imager captures infrared radiation readings in solid materials to show differences in temperature and dew point. Photos taken with the imager, shown below, reveal the presence of moisture by depicting the differences in temperature in color.

Based on the findings from the IRT work, wood samples were drilled and extracted for laboratory testing to establish if they were infected with fungi. In addition, visual inspections were made into the drilled holes in the walls using a borescope.

At the investigative team’s request, THC staff members Robert Field and Dusty Fritts excavated a pit to the bottom of the foundation wall’s footing at the building’s northeast corner. There the team observed the existing condition of the foundation wall in relation to the level of the water table, which fluctuates with the season.

Moisture emission tests were also conducted inside the mansion’s basement to measure moisture content in the walls and floor. The basement is prone to periodic flooding and the preservation work will address the causes and implement strategies to keep the basement dry.

Currently, the findings from these tests are being used to prepare drawings and specifications for the upcoming preservation work. Throughout the construction work, the furnishings and collections within the mansion will be carefully protected and the mansion will be closed to visitors. The new Fulton Mansion Education and History Center, opening on Aug. 30 and located directly behind the mansion at Henderson and Nancy Ann streets, will remain open to the public.

Fulton Mansion is located in the resort area of Rockport-Fulton, 30 miles north of Corpus Christi. The site is part of the Texas Tropical Trail Region.

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