The Asa Packer Museum is an 11,000 square foot mansion, that provides seasonal tours that tell Mr. Packer’s personal story and details his many accomplishments. Built in 1861, the museum, designated as a National Historic Landmark, is remarkably preserved, but the museum curators needed to take some actions to restore certain portions of the structure and its contents.
We conducted a feasibility study to investigate 5 projects for the museum. After the study, we were selected to complete architectural restoration of the museum’s wraparound porch and installation of geothermal heat pumps to provide safe and efficient heating to the museum, as well as the addition of air conditioning.
Solution Details: Porch restoration & preservation
Years of sun and moisture exposure had left much of the porch’s decking, floor joists, stair, railing, and column bases deteriorated.
Two layers of rotted wood decking were removed from the porch as well as a significant amount of the porch’s timber framing. The framing was reconstructed using as much original material as possible, while the decking was replaced in its entirety with rot-resistant tongue and groove Cyprus wood.
Furthermore, the column bases received custom aluminum base plates and structural straps to isolate them from surface moisture contact, which was all cleverly enclosed with column base trim that matched the columns’ original appearance.
Additionally, during demolition on the upper porch, a total of 4 skylight banks were discovered. Two skylight banks along the outside edge of the deck were restored and the remaining skylights were documented for historical purposes and re-covered with decking.
With the porches restored, one of the mansion’s important architectural features is preserved, as well as an entranceway and egress.
Solution Details: Geothermal HVAC
We upgraded the HVAC system to get heat to the mansion’s previously unheated 3rd floor and installed air conditioning to all 3 floors of the mansion.
In the mansion’s original heating design, most every room utilized a fireplace. In the 1880s the fireplaces were closed off and a steam boiler, and associated ductwork, was installed for the first two floors, but the 3rd floor was not ducted, due to architectural routing barriers. It relied solely on radiant heat from below.
Upgrading and installing HVAC to the mansion, without detracting from any of the historical elements and setting was a tall order. We were able to meet those demands with a geothermal heat pump system design since it required no externally located equipment units.
Ground heated and cooled fluid, was piped directly into the mansion’s basement, where the heat pumps and vertical fan coil units are located, feeding the existing ductwork; effectively heating and cooling the first and second floors.
The non-ducted 3rd floor received its heating/cooling by piping the hot/cold fluid from the basement, up the exterior of the mansion’s façade, to vertical fan coil units hidden in storage closet spaces of the rooms. Glycol prevented freezing and a custom architectural enclosure was designed to conceal the exterior piping.
The new ventilation grills were carefully selected to replicate aesthetics of the existing heat grills found throughout the mansion.
With the HVAC completed, not only are the tourists and guides more comfortable throughout the seasons, but the mansion and its historical and ornate finishes will incur smaller temperature and humidity swings, better preserving them. Lastly, the geothermal system eliminated the potential combustion source of the on-site boiler fuel and its increased efficiency will provide energy savings, lowering utility costs for years to come.