THE CORNWALL IRON FURNACE: A MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO HISTORIC BUILDING PRESERVATION

Open Access
Author:
Caudill, Christopher Phillip
Graduate Program:
Architectural Engineering
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 28, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Thomas E Boothby, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • DETERIORATION
  • MORTAR
  • CORROSION
  • PRESERVATION
  • HISTORIC
  • FURNACE
  • IRON
  • CORNWALL
  • EFFLORESCENCE
  • ORGANIC
Abstract:
The experiments, observations, and recommendations contained in this report began as a formal field document, investigating existing deterioration mechanisms in the Cornwall Iron Furnace: a historic building in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. The building is the focal point of an iron-producing complex of buildings, as it was largely responsible for the early economic success of the American colonies. Due to its historical significance, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission decided to make forward-looking efforts to preserve this structure. This task was performed by the Pennsylvania State University, Department of Architectural Engineering. The scope of the Cornwall Iron Furnace preservation project entailed an investigation into the following main topics: o Corrosion in Embedded Iron Members o Efflorescence and Organic Growth o Masonry As the project evolved with building preservation as a primary goal, it acquired additional, notable intellectual content. By using basic engineering principles to apply a variety of less frequently employed tests to a structure, the effectiveness of the project’s solutions was increased. The motivation, investigation, and application of this project to future endeavors is described in the following pages, as a master’s thesis document. This thesis is sectioned into three main parts, titled ‘Motivation and Thesis Scope,’ ‘Study of the Cornwall Iron Furnace Condition and Conservation Report,’ and ‘Application,’ as Parts I, II, and III: • Part I – Motivation and Thesis Scope: The Motivation section introduces a study involving the historical preservation of the Cornwall Iron Furnace, and outlines the academic content that developed throughout the course of the project. Using other published sources, this section provides necessary background information, as the motivation to this study, prior to the presentation of the detailed Cornwall Iron Furnace investigation. These published studies describe similar deterioration mechanisms to those found in the Cornwall Iron Furnace, and are necessary to understand the development Cornwall Iron Furnace investigation. • Part II – Study of the Cornwall Iron Furnace Condition and Conservation Report: The Study section presents the investigation into each deterioration mechanism found in the Cornwall Iron Furnace in depth. This section comprises the bulk of this document, and presents information pertaining to the intricacies of each scope item within the case study. In the final pages of Part II, recommendations to resolve each deterioration mechanism within the building are established. • Part III – Application: The Application section relates the information presented in Part I and Part II of this report by explaining the significance in the development and findings of the Cornwall Iron Furnace case study in relation to other similar projects. By employing less frequently used investigative techniques, the current state of the building was determined and corrective measures were proposed. In general, it was found that moisture intrusion is the primary cause of most of the problems observed in Cornwall Iron Furnace. As it interacts with the structural systems of the Furnace, moisture acts as a partial catalyst that corrodes iron members, supports efflorescence and organic growth, and continues masonry deterioration. Because a complete elimination of moisture within the building envelope is impractical, the proposed solutions to the problems within the Cornwall Iron Furnace incorporate a balanced look at each interdependent deterioration mechanism. The proposed solutions were then offered as efficient corrective measures.