Livingston Place

Historic Preservation

After acquiring the Livingston property, the restoration and rehabilitation of the 1938 historic home became an important goal of Tall Timbers. With the financial support of the State of Florida through three Special Category Grants of $1,283,632 (matched by $974,206 in community donations and $71,081 of in-kind services) for a total project budget of $2,328,919, the building will be used to host scientific conferences and community events and to accommodate overnight visiting scholars, students, and other invited guests.

Phases I & II were completed in mid-2017. In Phase I, the goal was to control exterior moisture entering the building and causing deterioration and mold and mildew buildup throughout the house. Architect John Russell Pope employed the finest construction techniques available at the time, and his use of cast-in-place concrete for solid masonry walls, floors, and foundations provided a truly fireproof structure. However, in a hot, humid Southern climate, without a proper air conditioning and dehumidification system, the house became a sweatbox. The first task was to replace the deteriorated flat roofs, preserve and seal the standing seam copper secondary roofs, and repair the drains and flashing to prevent water intrusion. Next, all exterior masonry brickwork was repointed and exterior windows and doors were restored.

Oak Allée
An oak allée leads to the front entrance of the historic home.
In Phase II, the building received its first centralized heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC). This was a major undertaking. As originally planned, the old steam radiator units in the wall windowsills were to be replaced by ductless HVAC units, thus concealing the modern equipment from the historic character of the interior space. However Asbestos was found wrapped around the radiator units, and that plan was abandoned. Instead, the new equipment and ductwork were concealed behind the brick parapet roof and in the basement out of public view. This careful redesign of the HVAC system enabled Pope’s distinct interior architectural features and spatial relationship to be fully retained an unmarred.

Phase III completed the installation of life safety systems, ADA accessibility improvements, and security lighting. Hazardous material work included lead paint remediation, asbestos abatement, and mold/mildew eradication. Conservators from the International Fine Art Conservation Studios (IFACS) of Atlanta were hired to perfrom a detailed paint study to establish the original 1938 colors of all interior main rooms, corridors and public areas using a combination of bullseye mechanical methodology and cross section microscopy. The colors were matched to the Benjamin Moore palette, and all interior spaces were carefully prepped and painted per specifications from the project architect.

Restored Dining Room
The dining room has been restored to its original neutral colors. The more muted tones highlighted the elegant trim, artwork, and furniture the Livingstons placed in the room.
Later, the IFACS crew returned to clean, wax, and polish the Georgia curly heart pine paneled bar, gun room, library, and second floor master sitting room. The large living room with 18th century English pine was methodically stain-tested, and decades of wax and shellac build-up was removed by hand with denatured alcohol. Crown moldings and ornate fireplace plaster surrounds were restored. The room was refinished in a warm amber shellac, waxed, and buffed to restore its rich original two tonal appearance. Two master craftsmen restored the French doors and windows and repaired the historic hardware or replaced non-salvageable pieces to match originals. The library floor, which was damaged by a water leak, was replaced with identical oak veneer boards found at a mill in Alabama.

Finally, the kitchen wing was rehabilitated and upgraded to a commercial grade catering facility to accommodate revenue generating special events. The 1938 colors were applied to surfaces and original cabinets. The countertops were restored in their stainless-steel frames with period-matching Formica. The servants’ dining room was restored with original table, chairs, and call box. At the request of FLDOS Division of Historical Resources architects, the new exhaust hood system for the stove was vented out of a kitchen rear window rather than penetrating the copper roof line.

In 2020 the project received a Florida Preservation Award from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. The award recognizes the team responsible for the restoration, including leadership by the Livingston Place Committee and the Refurbishing Subcommittee, the expertise of Edwards Olson Architecture and Childers Construction Company, the craftsmanship of International Fine Art Conservation Studios, Inc., and the financial support of the State of Florida and community donations, with special thanks to Daphne and Marty Wood.

kitchen exhaust system
Tall Timbers hired r.e.Walsh Engineering to design a new kitchen exhaust system. The ductwork flows out of a kitchen window without marring the exterior of the building, as the old system did. A private individual donated commercial appliances for the kitchen. The kitchen was painted in its original color scheme, the countertops were restored, and the cabinets were repaired.
Oak Allée
An oak allée leads to the front entrance of the historic home.
Restored Dining Room
The dining room has been restored to its original neutral colors. The more muted tones highlighted the elegant trim, artwork, and furniture the Livingstons placed in the room.
Duct work
The HVAC system and ductwork was installed on the flat roof and is concealed from public view behind the parapet. Other ductwork was installed in the basement. This design was prompted by the discovery of asbestos in interior wall radiator cavities.
Phase III rehabilitation
Phase III rehabilitation work included constructing an ADA-compliant parking pad in the side yard, repairing and leveling the original brick walkway, and adding a ramp to the dining room entrance of the house.
IFACS used a spectrophotometer to read the bullseye samples using the Munsell color standard for recording the results. Tall Timbers used IFACS’ detailed report to select paint for repainting the interior in original colors.
Chief Conservator Mary Aldrich
IFACS Chief Conservator Mary Aldrich restores historic wood paneling in the living room. Tall Timbers hired IFACS to study and restore the historic finishes of the living room paneling. IFACS also cleaned the historic paneling in the library, gun room, bar, and master bedroom sitting area. Additionally, IFACS developed instructions for future care of the paneling.
Master craftsmen Kenny Cooper
Master craftsmen Kenny Cooper and Cole Stewart repaired and restored historic doors, windows, cabinetry, and hardware. Hardware that could not be restored was replaced with replicas or matching historic pieces.