It is wonderful to see the Cape-Harper building reawakening. Walking by a few nights ago the lights had been left on in the Harper pharmacy space, I was struck by the ambience of the scene.
What with the recent work to the Maplewood Loop (the original name), the integration of the historic streetcar shelter into our new park and the bubbling rock, when the Cape-Harper building is finished this will be one of the finest retail locations in the City of Maplewood.
As a preservationist, I’ll miss the transom windows and serpentine marble from the front of the Harper’s Pharmacy. However, I realize this is a tradeoff to get this building up and running and producing income again.
Any of you who saw the building at night with the lights on in the newly renovated space know how dramatic a sight it was. Now just imagine that the cabinets were still in that space. It would be positively mind blowing. The only trade off with the cabinets should have been to allow the ones that once blocked a clear view into the interior to be installed elsewhere in the building. The cabinets along the walls on both sides should absolutely have been kept.
All most of the cabinets needed was a good cleaning and polishing. A few may have needed to be reglued. Cabinets and furniture of that age were held together by hide glue, an animal-based product. This glue dries out over the decades and the pieces may come apart at the joints. It is still readily available and easy to work with. Applied hot, it sets as soon as it cools and dissolves in water which makes it readily reversible.
Because it dissolves in water, the pieces of the cabinets stored in damp locations (the basement for example) may fall apart. They are easily reassembled. Please, Mr. Schlafly, take appropriate steps to protect them.
The serpentine marble should also be stored on site. It won’t dissolve in water. It’s a million years old already. Keep those stored for the next owner and I’ll make sure the library has photos so he can tell where each piece of marble was originally. (Actually I’ve already done this).
As for the loss of the transoms, I’ll never complain. The way those new large windows opened up the interior of the building to the light was worth a few transoms especially if they someday allow the passersby to ogle the superb, ornate cabinetry of the Harper’s Pharmacy.