The Case of the Puzzling Panels 2


To get behind the surface appearances here we need to, well, get behind the surface. This is the fireplace from the previous post, viewed from inside. This  shot (sorry about the quality) looks directly up towards the chimney pot three stories above.  Note the continuous brown support about four brick courses up, and the way the shaft changes from vertical to a slight angle at that level. This change is not visible outside on the room wall, so the chimney breast thickens at that point. The four courses below that are held up by a rusty L shaped metal cross support, a tiny part of which is visible bottom right.


This shot shows that the long brown support in the shot above is actually a very thick minimally shaped wooden beam. At one end it is nailed with a very thick old fashioned nail to a metal bar which crosses the width of the chimney and is fixed to the back wall. Just visible below it on the right of the shot is another large nail fixed in the side wall. both the bar and the separate nail stand proud of the wall by an inch or two. The next and final post on this puzzle will add a couple of other bits of evidence and draw the interpretation together.

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5 Responses to The Case of the Puzzling Panels 2

  1. There were many restoration issues with Old San Juan here in P.R., also. The old city is full of flat-roofed brick and stone buildings dating back to the 16th and 17th century when Puerto Rico was a Spanish possession. When restored, similar issues:
    “The greatest challenge was to restore 16th-century buildings, for which there were no original plans. One example of this is San José Church, the only true Gothic building under the U.S. flag. The walls of this church had to be scraped to uncover the original 16th-century features. Buried under layers of concrete, the restores found one of the earliest murals painted in the Americas – the work of a friar whose identity will probably never be known.”

  2. Trifocal says:

    I have never been to Puerto Rico, but have been in Albuquerque and El Paso in connection with my work, so have seen a little of the old Hispanic architecture, which I liked very much. I cannot imagine how you get layers of concrete off a building without damaging a mural underneath, but clearly expert restorers can do that now. I guess it is almost like peeling away the present to find the past. Come to think of it maybe that is a definition of being an historian too 🙂

  3. According to my father who is a retired architect, all those old Spanish buildings were made using masonry, so when they restored them there were dried out layers of plaster-like coverings.

  4. The aging elements and patina show the years of use and wear, and this pulls me into all the stories that it heard and saw.

    • Trifocal says:

      Yes that is very much the feeling I get. There must have been over 250 Christmas Eve nights round that fireplace, and we know from historical records that for quite a lot of that time there were children in the families living there. That is a lot of excitement and anticipation to have been contained within the walls of one room 🙂

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