February 3, 2023
3 min read
With all the engaging activities which Glen Brook lends itself to, one would not necessarily have much time to focus on the conditions of the interior floors which have supported thousands of people through the past two and a half centuries. In the case of our oldest floors in the Main House, the boards are roughly 1+ inch thick, and anywhere from 8 to 20” wide. They are not supported by any subflooring, but merely straddle the floor joists which can be two feet apart.
When some of us were of camper age, these floors were painted a variety of deep colors, either gray, blue, green, brown, or red. Each room was unique in its own floor color. I remember the boards having a slight wave between each seam – or what I would later learn as “cupping”. As the paint wore on the floors new paint was applied – again, and again. I remember painting floors as a student.
The paint added lots of protection, and no doubt was a good preservative. But the curiosity of what lay beneath the paint was mounting, and by the late ‘90s a flooring contractor was hired to to tackle the daunting task of removing all those layers of solid color. The beauty and character of the old wide pine boards was finally revealed in both the Main House and the Hill House! The Glen Brook staff on board at the time were James Madsen, director, and his assistants Matthew Betz and Dwight Webb.
For the north side of the building which we call the ‘Wing’ or Main House Wing, the floors have a much different story. Built in 1978, the floors were made with white oak, and clear coated with polyurethane. Given the durability of oak, the finish only slowly wore down to where it only recently needed attention.
Now in 2023, after 25 years for the old pine, and 45 years for the oak, it was time to refinish the same floors. We were lucky enough to use the same company who sanded the pine floors back in the 90’s. This time, instead of using the same polyurethane, a new commercial based water product was used, called “Street Shoe”. (Ironically, We’re asking guests to not wear their street shoes upstairs!) They look beautiful again, and all evidence of cupping has vanished!
No sooner did we start purging the rooms of beds and other furniture, than did we recognize the opportunity to repaint the walls and ceilings. Beginning after the last trip in late November, and some twenty gallons of paint later, we have bright new bedrooms to compliment the new floor finishes!
There were a couple days when the full staff pitched in. However, most of the work was done by our own hard working and very talented school program instructors, Romeek Carr, and Jera Gibney. We were also lucky to have Maiya Clark help us through December. Thank you Romeek, Jera, and Maiya!
When one considers the human history these rooms have sheltered, it is inspiring to anticipate the future generations of campers and students and other guests who will add to the ever widening culture we call Glen Brook.
We invite you all to come see both ends of the Main House second floors in their newest conditions, and look forward to welcoming you!