Thursday, November 21, 2013

Restoration of the Missing Soldiers Office

     I spent a day in Washington D.C. this week to see the completed restoration work on the Missing Soldiers Office building.  It looks much different than it did when I first saw it over a year ago.  The interior now appears much like it did when Clara Barton lived and worked there.  This is a big step toward being able to open the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum to the public.  Now we can focus more on the exhibits and the artifacts to be displayed in the building. 

     In the meantime, let’s take a look at the work that has been done.  You can see some of the “before” photos here.

The first floor of the building is the Welcome Center and gift shop.  Here you can see the new floor, and some of the items which will be for sale.  There will be some displays here as well.
The Missing Soldiers Office was located on the third floor of the building, so the majority of the exhibits will be there.  Visitors to the museum will be able to walk up the same staircase that Clara Barton used.

Several of the period wallpapers from the building were reproduced.  This is the back hallway of the building where the kitchen, dining room, and some boarding rooms were located.

Gas lights were reproduced for the rooms as well.  The lights in these fixtures even flicker like the real ones did!

Some sections of the old wallpaper were preserved.  You can see by the reflection of the window in the photo that the old wallpaper is protected by sheets of Plexiglas.
Here is the front hallway with more reproduction gas lights and a skylight.  The doors to the right were boarding rooms.  The rooms to the left made up the Missing Soldiers Office.  The room through the far doorway and to the left was Clara’s room.
Here is the door which was pictured being restored in my previous Clara Barton post (see the link above).  Room number 7 was part of the Missing Soldiers Office. 
Here’s a peek inside the Missing Soldiers Office.  The panel is a depiction of how the office probably looked while Clara Barton was there.  You can also see the data logger I left there in August in the bottom stovepipe hole.  I retrieved that on my visit and was able to download the environmental information from it.  This information will help to guide us in choosing the artifacts and display cases for the space.

Further down the hall is the door to Clara Barton’s room!
I don’t want to give away too much before the museum’s opening, but here’s a look inside Clara’s room.  The ladder you see is the same one which was used when the artifacts were discovered in the attic, so the ladder and the opening to the attic have been left here to help tell the story of the building. 

     My next update should be on the displays in the Missing Soldiers Office.  I am looking forward to sharing them with you!  In the meantime, you can see more photos and follow our progress on our website, here.

Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.

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