The single-room Women’s Comfort Station in Oakland Cemetery is on its way to being restored! The project broke ground in early April with the goal of restoring the building to its original appearance.
The Women’s Comfort Station was built in 1908 in conjunction with a Men’s Comfort Station located in a different area of the cemetery. These public comfort stations, which were proposed to the city council in 1907 to better facilitate the high number of visitors to the cemetery, were the first of their kind in Atlanta. The Women’s Comfort Station cost around $1,200 to construct, about $200 more than the men’s. The reason for this disparity is seen in the details of the buildings. The women’s had marble stall partitions, tile walls, and mosaic tile floors. The men’s did not have such attention to detail.
In the intervening years since its construction, the Women’s Comfort Station has undergone significant changes. Much like the cemetery, the building had fallen into disrepair. It has been unused since the 1970s. It has also sustained significant damage, which was the impetus behind the current restoration project. The scope of work includes stabilizing the exterior as well as rebuilding the parapet roof, the lintels above the windows, and the northwest corner that was damaged in 2008. The interior is also being renovated. This project, as mentioned, seeks to restore the building to its original state, with the exception of the iron security gate that was added after construction but provides security for the building.
“This project, as mentioned, seeks to restore the building to its original state, with the exception of the iron security gate that was added after construction but provides security for the building.”
Here’s a description of the progress we’ve made in case you have not been to Oakland to see it for yourself. We began by taking the plaster walls down inside to see if there were any structural cracks we needed to fix. Then we took off the temporary gable roof. The gable roof had been constructed over the parapet roof, which we are currently rebuilding. We’ve worked on cleaning the mortar off the bricks in an effort to reuse as much of the original masonry as possible. Moving forward with the project, we will begin to replace the stone caps. HOF staff will tuckpoint the mortar in areas that do not need reconstructing.
We are only in the early stages of the project, and we have already made some interesting discoveries! When this structure was built in 1908, almost all of the work was hand-done, and this is evident in the irregular brick and tile spacing we’ve found. Similarly, the window boxes are all slightly different sizes, meaning that each window frame will need to be custom-made to ensure that the new windows fit properly. Perhaps most excitingly, we had Lord Aeck Sargent perform a paint analysis on the building so we can restore it precisely to the original colors. We discovered that the interior of the building was primarily “antique white,” and while we originally thought the shingles had been red, they were actually green.
We will keep you updated on our progress both here on the blog and, more frequently, on our PRO team’s Instagram, @HOFPROteam.