March 15, 2011
A seat with a view
Two contract workers appear to be painting or preparing to paint the dome of Old Main, probably using a verdigris-colored paint to simulate the patina of copper. Old Main's new copper roof has a pre-patina application. This process accelerates the oxidation of the copper and, consequently, the dome won't need to be painted again. Obviously before OSHA implemented safety standards, each worker in this photo (taken about 27 years ago) is equipped with a bosun's chair, essentially a seat and a rope used only by the "strong at heart," to access hard-to-reach places, according to Dennis Hittle, director of facilities services at Augustana. At more than 110 feet in the air, the two painters used their legs to kick away from the dome and swing back and forth. To move up and down on the dome, they used a block and tackle knotted rigging that could be loosened or tightened. "Early in my career, I was introduced to a bosun's chair; it was one of the scariest things I have ever been on," Hittle said. "I'm glad it was just a demonstration."
Photo courtesy of Special Collections, Thomas Tredway Library
Contact Augustana Magazine editor Debbie Blaylock by email; by phone at (309) 794-8979; or by mail at Augustana College, 639 38th St., Rock Island, Ill., 61201.