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That First Step Rests on the Foundation

Belmont Mansion Association enjoys a working relationship with Belmont University that is unparalleled. The majority of American house museums must struggle through daily operations without the assistance of the partnership we enjoy.

When we began to formulate plans for restoration of the principle staircase and surrounding areas in 2016 it became apparent the stairs were pulling away from the wall in numerous places. Not only was the structure pulling away from the wall there was a decided downward tilt to each step.

After much investigation of the structure it was indeed determined the structure of the stairs were failing. Selected sections of plaster were removed to explore the area and determine a solution. This staircase, completed in 1860, and retrofitted into an existing space was simply nailed into the existing masonry with little additional support added within the walls. A structural engineer designed a system of steel supports that would be keyed into the masonry at various point so that it might stand for at least another 150 years.

Small organizations are rarely prepared to undertake such extensive repairs. To their credit Belmont University stepped in with the funds to pay for these all too necessary repairs, setting the stage for Belmont Mansion to proceed with the current restoration of the staircase finishes and adjoining spaces.

This photo shows the underneath of the left side of the stair as it curves upwards and is cantilevered across the wall. The light wood forms a temporary support system that was replaced by the new steel structure.

Photo of the underneath side of the landing. Note that it is secured to the wall in only two places. One of the issues addressed during this restoration.

See the stringer (the wood beam horizontal to the wall) is pulling away from the wall.

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