Enjoying summer, remembering (and still recovering from) winter

July 1, 2015 · CHS Buzz ·

By Kevin Hughes, Director of Administration at the CHS

Summer is upon us and warm weather beckons us outdoors. In many respects, February is a distant memory.

Or is it?

February 2015 in Hartford was one for the record books. With an average daily temperature of 16 degrees, it eclipsed the old record of 16.5 degrees set back in 1934. The historical average is a balmy 28 degrees, so it was a stunning 43% colder than the average February as measured since 1904!

Temperature extremes clearly present unusual problems we all have to deal with. Our roads took a beating and our homes and business infrastructure did as well. Here at the Connecticut Historical Society, our challenge was to stay on top of the hazards that these conditions create. Frost heaving and ice damming were constant concerns. This photo shows the top of an 18-foot ice formation that developed – and hung around for what seemed like forever – alongside our book stack wing:


On a warm day in mid-March, it finally tumbled down. Thankfully it didn’t hit anyone!

Weathering an extreme winter similar to what just occurred requires constant maintenance of our building’s exterior components. It actually starts the summer before with cyclical upkeep tasks such as slate roof repair, gutter and downspout cleaning, and masonry re-pointing. Last summer, we did major restoration work on our seven chimneys that were showing signs of decay after decades of wear and tear. We also recently installed de-icing cables on the front porte-cochere to prevent ice damming and water seepage into the house itself.

This summer season — with a wary eye towards next winter — we will again be doing projects to minimize winter’s harshness. At the top of the list we’ll replace the 45-year- old roof on our book stack wing. Shortly thereafter, we will resurface our parking lots and driveways. Winter has not been kind to them, causing numerous patches of deterioration and heaving (in addition to the curbing that gets beat up by the snow plows). In fact, the winter season of 2013-14 was actually colder than what we just endured!

Here’s hoping for a few ‘average’ winters in the coming years!

Kevin Hughes is the Director of Administration for the Connecticut Historical Society, a position he has held since 1998. He holds a BA from Assumption College and an MPA from the University of Hartford. He enjoys running, golf, genealogy, and spending time with his family.

About the Connecticut Historical Society

A private, nonprofit, educational organization established in 1825, the Connecticut Historical Society is the state’s official historical society and one of the oldest in the nation. Located at 1 Elizabeth Street in Hartford, the CHS houses a museum, library, and the Edgar F. Waterman Research Center that are open to the public and funded by private contributions. The CHS’s collection includes more than 4 million manuscripts, graphics, books, artifacts, and other historical materials accessible at our campus and on loan at other organizations.

The CHS collection, programs and exhibits help Connecticut residents connect with each other, have conversations that shape our communities, and make informed decisions based on our past and present.

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