Thursday, December 28, 2006

Queen Creek's Rittenhouse School gets face lift

[Source: Srianthi Perera, Arizona Republic] -- The Rittenhouse School building has been a focal point of the Queen Creek community since 1925, first as a school and then as a place to house the area's history. Now, its weather-beaten exterior, with its peeling paint and crumbling brick, is receiving some attention. Thanks to a significant donation from community member Newell Barney, exterior renovation work has commenced at the 81-year-old building that now houses the San Tan Historical Museum.

When the project is completed, the building will be restored to its red brick schoolhouse appearance. In the just-completed first phase, lead-based paint was removed in a process that took several weeks, said Dave Salge, president of the San Tan Historical Society, which runs the museum. While paying attention to environmental concerns and following guidelines established by the National Register of Historic Places, Mesa-based Aqua Blasters used a combination of chemicals and soda blasting to remove the paint.

The last coating of paint to be removed was mixed with cement and wouldn't come off with normal strippers, the company's Joe Lee said. "It was a major challenge to remove it, and we had to find an obscure product for paint removal," Lee said. It was an "interesting learning experience" for the professional pressure washing company tackling its first historical building, he said. Interesting too were the engravings - various names and years - that Lee and his crew came across while doing the work. "It got me thinking about the whole history of the school," Lee said. Aqua Blasters donated 10percent of the cost back to the museum.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Leanne Matzenger.]