Projects: The Perfume of Plaster Dust

Part of The Roving Home’s ongoing chronicle of one of our projects: the rehab of an old building in Mutual, Ohio in preparation for turning the site into the Madden Road Music Hall.

The future of the building, spelled out in plaster dust.

There’s nothing like inhaling 150-year-old plaster dust and a fine film of dried bird droppings to wake you up to the realities of rehabbing an old building. The American vogue for tearing structures down to erect new ones lined with brand-new drywall and vinyl siding seems briefly appealing. And then you remember why you’re doing this: old buildings such as this one are truly irreplaceable. Entering the 19th century structure we’re working on, a two story brick Georgian-style with enormous windows, gives a sense of history not contained in any book. You recall another time, a time when the crossroads of Mutual, Ohio was vibrant enough to warrant a building like this as its own Town Hall and community center, where people came in from their farms to watch basketball games and whatever else took place at this spot. Watching the building come to life again is a privilege of local proportions, shared in the most modern, universal way possible — online — the community of Mutual expanding to include anyone in the world who stumbles on this site to see a small relic of our rural American past, emerging from under a thick layer of neglect and plaster dust. (Postscript: To read about the Music Festival, click here.)

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