Working in construction means creating new space for our clients. Sometimes we are building new out-of-the-ground buildings or additions. And sometimes we are renovating their existing space. And on occasion, those renovations are done on century-old buildings that have stories to tell. It’s these projects where you can really glean insight on construction’s past means and methods, techniques, and technology. It’s fun to look back and see how far things really have come.
An example of this is the renovation Green Leaf Construction recently completed for St. Leo’s School. The building was completed in 1925, and renovated in the 70’s when green and tan fiberglass panels were all the rage, like disco balls and naugahyde. As you can see from our “before” pictures, it was pretty dated stuff. So we got to work peeling back the layers. And what we found was a visual walk down memory lane. The original brick walls were painted at one point…but there were some mysteriously unpainted rectangles up high on the wall. A few minutes of thinking, and Eureka! Those unpainted spots are where the toilet’s tanks were once hung…the Crapper’s valveless waste preventer, as it were. Very interesting stuff.
But we could only marvel at it for a minute, and then we were on to rebuilding so the bathrooms could be used by the students who were arriving from summer vacation in a few short weeks. And though we move forward, we learn from looking back…as the glass block walls and Crapper’s tanks made way for ceramic tile and tankless flush valve toilets, it makes us appreciate the advances in technology over the years.
And now, all bright, shiny, and new, I pause to wonder what my successors will find and think when renovations are undertaken far in the future. Will materials be even easier to install? Will they be installed with machines instead of the craftsman’s hands? Will they be pre-fabricated? Only time will tell exactlywhat changes, but one thing is certain, changes will be made!
Tom Dube is Chief Operating Officer of Green Leaf Construction.