Leslie Hodgsons 1905-06 Masonic Temple

Kevin Dwayne Blanch

573 south 4700 west Ogden Utah

84401  801-452-1908
 
    

                                   

    Leslie Hodgson 1905-1906 Ogden Utah Masonic Temple # 18 2550 Washington Blvd Ogden Utah

 

      I Kevin Dwayne Blanch 100 % completely restored the exterior of the said temple in the spring of 2009; I started March the 3rd of 09 and completed the restoration on August the 10 th of 2009.  I have been interested and active in the restoration of the said building begging in 1977. I have been talking writing and ranting for decades about the Ogden Masonic temple by Leslie Hodgson.  In 1977 I was a young plasterer, and was with three of the old time plasterers, who were bidding the restoration of the said building, Including Don Hull and others.  I was and am a student of history.  I knew all about Leslie Hodgson from a very young age, and the economic significance to the temple. In 1977 the attempt to restore it was not considered in a real context. It was simply patched it up for the 3rd time.  The old timers (who were brilliant plasterers said it cannot be saved. The sand stone has deteriorated in the weather from the beginning.       I never accepted that thesis.

                I drove by the structure every day for decades on my way to Morris Hansen’s, later becoming Capitol building supply. I have been a plaster for 35 years now. My business Kevin Blanch Plastering Utah state license 1984 has plastered over 10,000 jobs.  I have never exploited illegal labor or for that matter switched to fake stucco (E.I.F.S.) I have personally worked on every project my company has worked on ( 24 on Washington Blvd. alone).  In 1994 I was called to give a bid on the restoration of the building I was very excited, that someone was going to save it. It was on the verge of being condemned. As I talked to the new owner I quickly understood he was clueless about the stature and significance of the grand structure. He was a commercial slum lord looking to Hodge- poge a quick buck.  I went to the city and the state.  They had no clue what it even was and did not care. The said owner hired some unskilled labor and spread so called synthetic plaster, with their hands over the entire thing. (Synergy, Capitol building supply) I nearly cried everyday as I drove by.

As luck has it or fate, the building was sold to Randall Richards and Bernie Allen, and as time went on I was hired by Randall Richards to represent some clients of his in regard to fake stucco (E.I.F.S.) as an expert witness. As I evolved with Mr. Richards I was ranting to him every chance I got about the grand history and importance of the building, He had talked to dozens of contractors and architects and the previous owners who said it could not be saved.  I would tell Mr. Richards as my old mentor told me “ 30 plus years every day and you might be getting close to being a true master of the art of plastering, not until you have your own recipes will you be a master”.  I would tell Randy I am a master and I have a plan to save it. After years of my politicking and ranting, Randall Richards and Bernie Allan agreed to let my try.
 

I knew it had been attempted at least 4 times and had been patched.  My plan was to hand chiseled all four layers of recover and patching of by hand with a hammer and chisel. Then Use what I call my secret sauce to rebuild the stone.
 I dangled with a harness from the top of the building with a rock climbing rope, and chiseled every square inch off, 7 day s a week 10 to 12 hrs. A day, I had trouble sleeping at night because of the aching in my arms.  I was so impassioned by the thought of saving Leslie Hodgsons MOST important work, of course his greatest is Ogden High school, and the David Eccles building and what was the Ogden Coliseum. But I knew the 2550 masonic temple was by far his most important (I have spent the past 3 years writing a book in regard to Oden Utah and the importance of this building and the Federal Reserve W.P.A.,  C.C.C., the new deal, the World Bank. And the economics of the United States) I can and will show in my book that this building could be the most important structure this side of the Mississippi ever built. (Mariner Eccles etc. In my work and research I have documented evidence of a society that existed in Ogden and the said temple in regard to the above subject matter.)  I am almost finished it will be published soon).
 

·         Layer one was a very brown plaster mix from the 1920s or 30s ( I believe that the very Young Hodgson used a sand stone brought from the east via the Ogden rail yard, that did not stand up to the north wind and freeze cycle, the north and south vertical square stones rising all the way up the building would catch the snow and the freeze cycle brock the edges quit quickly in the buildings life) the plasterers  squared the eroded corners with plaster ( sand cement and lime)

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·         The second time I estimate was in the early fifty’s, and again it was a second attempted to stop the sand stone erosion not just on the corner vertical up rights but quarter sized pocks where appearing all over the pillars and ionic caps ( they use a very strong rich mix of cement and sand very little lime and very little sand a very rich mix that was extremely hard but dark gray, as the first attempted had been was an eye sore and stuck out because of the variation in color ( dramatic ) and texture.

·          

·         The second time was in the late 1950s or 60s, and the entire façade was covered with white cement, sand and lime mix. I know this because of my years working with and around and behind Don Hall who did 1000s of plaster jobs all over Weber County. I know his mix to a tee. He is the one who should me his secret mix and it was his mix.

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·         The fourth time was in 1993 or 94 as I stated before was a very unskilled horrible attempted to cover the whole thing up. ( it nearly did the grand building in ( by far the most destructive thing ever done to the building) so called synthetic stucco (E.I.F.S. ) which is no more than latex paint with sand and lime. It was a horrible mess,  integrity wise and visual)
 

After I spent 68 day s chipping the four layers  off, it was naked and you could see why the recovers had been attempted pocking and broken sand stone everywhere on the bottom where the stone meet the side walk, their where holes in the stone over 8 inches deep. 

As my hod tender Jerry (I call him my Gicamo, (Michelangelo’s assistant) said “if you don’t pull this off you really will have to leave town.  The previous owner walked by and said that’s why the covered the previous times you will never save it. I told him watch me fool.  I had the color and mix in my head for years.  I knew this would take all my knowledge and skill I have completed in 50 years.  I used white plaster from the lahabra California pit and my own reserve of powder colors I have acquired of my 35 year plastering carrier.  It takes me dozens of attempts on most restoration jobs to get the exact color and texture.  Voila, I got it on the first try; it had been in my head for decades.  I keep thinking g of Leslie Hodgson and Mariner Eccles who I knew personally as a boy ( Mariner I knew Mariner, Mr. Hodgson I had read about and studied in Jr. High Art class ( Mr. Farr my teacher Wahlquist Jr. High 1974) via by my grandfathers, and Father ( Leonard Blanch, Dwayne Blanch( Amalgamated sugar) Abraham Hunsaker the 5th ( He had many dealings with Mariner and Leslie)  I have always been a student of history ( Olean Walkers Mother Mrs. T.O Smith was my second grade teacher, she is the one who started my down this path of being a plaster and history nut, she gave me a book on Michelangelo in 1968, I picked up a hawk and trowel the next week. ( My grandfather and uncle Al Hunsaker owned the Great white sand pits of Brigham city so that s where I started making plaster).

I spent the next two months 7 days a week sculpting  and filling every little pock and void from dime size to Wheel barrow sized.  After I had sculpted and filled the bad areas pretty much the whole façade, I applied a very lite latex glue and slurried wash from the slurry in my mix over the entire thing. It turned out so good. I had a photograph Randy form the bakery in the building had found on the United States Archived web site. Shoot form across Washington Blvd 1919 W.W. I parade (what a great photo). I starred at it at least one hour per day in the bakery before begging work every day.  When you drive by look at the old masonic symbol in the front over the entrance door, I spent weeks exposing it as delicate as I could (I felt like one of the great Archeologist of the early part of the century that where working in Wyoming the exact time as this grand structure was being built 1905-1906).
 

                I have attached a poem I wrote about this experience with this letter; I hope in the future this helps with the restoration of Ogden’s great Important History and the Legacy of what I believe to be the greatest Art Deco Architect in American History Leslie Hodgson. (I know this 1905 structure was well in front of the art deco movement), And the Gigantic Importance of the lodge 18 and the society I spoke of in my intro (not masons) and the Gigantic importance of Mariner Eccles the second greatest Economist in American History (only Alexander Hamilton is more Important than Mariner) I personally knew Mr. Eccles as a boy.

                Footnote: I think I know where the said buildings keystone is, I will update this letter on further investigation.

                                                                Thank you

 

                                                Kevin Dwayne Blanch  2/3/11
 

 

 

I do know what I am talking about.  I Graduated from the #1school of business in the U.S., I have a fine art degree, BUT MOST OF ALL I HAVE 10,000 JOBS and a whole life time of hard

work and Integrity, 

 

 

 I have stucco jobs 30 plus years old all over, I have literally worn out hundreds of pairs of boots, hundreds of wheel barrows, hundreds of Hawks and Trowels, and thousands of floats many thousands.

 

  I have broken pretty well every bone in my body plastering, I have scars all over my body from sharp sand and lime burns. 

 

 Plastering is a very passionate subject, I could have entered any field I wanted, I had the family, the strength the intelligence, and the passion.

 

 I come from a large family of BRAIN SURGEONS NEURO SURGEONS, HISTORIANS, PROFESSORS, all very dynamic people.

 

  I could have gone down any of those paths, I took on PLASTERING FOR ONE REASON, ART--- I love the sun, I love working in the sun, I love great art, and as a boy, I loved to read about art history Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni; (read what he said about plasterers, he said they were the most refined skilled artist on earth).

 

 Diego Rivera, Leonardo, Macintosh, Millet, I loved them all, and they loved plasterers, they were plasterers.

 

  Diego Rivera and Michelangelo would both rollover if they could see what people call frescos, or Venetian Plaster, Macintosh would freak out if could see them calling paint over foam ( e.i.f.s.) stucco, Millet and all the great masters would CRY, If they could see what this country has done to skilled craftsman and their families. (they have been destroyed, from top to bottom foam a too z. every aspect of their life's crushed).  

 

 It is a pathetic commentary on us as a people. 

 

 

    I recently restored the 1905 Masonic temple in our town, Hogdson was the architect (one of Americas greatest art deco architects) it was his first major project.  It had arched REAL FRESCO'S IN THE CEILINGS, HUGE SPANS; 40- by 40- two of them, Mariner Eccles office were in this building. 

 

 In one of the most historical places in the history of this country; 25 streets U.S.A.   Some loser contractors tore the frescos out, I have done some research and believe the artist was one of the greats of the era from Europe, I estimate the fresco's values at $ 500,000 each. 

 

 I begged the city and the owners for decades to restore it.  They condemned it.  Thank god two men with soles stepped in and bought it, Randy Richards, and Bernie Allen, after listening to me ranting for years, they let me restore it. 

 

  No one thought I could put it back to its original status.  I am getting older, and I had recovered from a critical fall broken back critical condition, I would not be able to just supervise; I knew I had to do every square inch myself,  And it would take all of my skill and knowledge.

 

 I replied 60 ft. with a climbing rope and rig. I hand chiseled every square inch, while getting dumped on by hundreds of pigeons. 

 

I had trouble sleeping at night, because of my arms aching from the chisel, 4 layers of bad plastering over 104 years; the building is next to the public defender’s office.  So every know- it- all; never worked a day in their life attorney, would tell me, you are wasting your time, (I think Bernie and Randy where half way in that camp), After months of chiseling it was naked.  

 

      A very old attorney, 80 years old, who I have known for years; came by one day and said " Kevin you know that's why they plastered over it the first time, the sandstone was spa-ling and crumbling, I have been watching with great interest the whole time, now we will see if you are the artist you say you are, you showed you still know how to work, now let’s see the craft."  He was right;  

 

 I had I sign that I made, that said "I am doing the work Americans do not want to do, from the ground up, not because it is easy but because it is hard."  I knew I would get a lot of negative feedback that is what I was asking for. 

 

    Jerry my Giacomo ( 20 plus year hod tender) said " Kevin if you don't pull this one off, after all the ranting and raving you have done, you better pack up and leave town, everyone is looking for you to fail, except the old attorney, and the owners."  Boy was he right:  this job was more about VINDICATION of me as my choice to stand alone, as a metaphorical plastering matter, I had lost everything standing on my principals; my money was gone, my wife was gone, my health was almost gone.

 

  But I still had Integrity and strength, I would tell everyone, all your money can not buy what I have, Integrity and strength, SEMPER FI.

 

 

    I played with my plaster mix, I keep remembering what my old mentor, would say, "Every day for 30 years you might be getting close ,until you have your own recipes you will never be a great plaster."   Jerry said one day; “I know you have been using your own recipes for years, and even I do not know all your tricks, but you will have to come up with one great recipe on this one."  Jerry knows, sometimes it takes me dozens of mixes to get where I need to go, when it comes to restoration projects.  

 

   THE FIRST MIX;    THAT WAS IT,    I had thought about this job for decades,  I had watched it being covered over, two of the 4 times, I remembered it form the 60s, Next door to grand Orpheum  theater ( torn down by losers). 

 

    I had driven by it every day for 35 years on my way to Morris Hansen's supply yard, (When I started going there, they still sold animal blood for glue and horse bags of horse hair for fiber, not to mention wire lath hangers, I still have some and do know how to use them. 

 

 I would make my mix at home; I would be questioned every day by dozens wanting to know what it was made with?

 

    I would say you; don’t know do you and no one probably will ever know I sculpted in some cases over a foot deep, all kinds of scroll work with a trowel. 

 

     I had a photograph, Randy at the bakery; inside the building, had found for me to work from.  It was from the UNITED STATES Historical World War One archives.  It had been taken right across the street during the 1917 Parade; I looked at it for about an hour a day, every day for two months, as I sculpted the plaster. 

 

    I was almost done, and the old Attorney came by and said" kev. I need to talk to you." O.K. I said what it is? 

 

  He said “DO NOT EVER LET ANYONE IN THIS TOWN EVER SLANDER YOU AGAIN, YOU ARE THE ARTIST, IT HAD BEEN TRIED 4 TIMES OVER 105 YEARS BY SOME GREAT PLASTERS AND NOT SO GREAT PLASTER, YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE THAT GOT IT RIGHT, and don't you ever forget it."

 

          I had not shed a tear while all the ugly pain was ragging. 

 

     I had been through a lot over the past decade.  The last tear I had cried, was when they zipped up the body bag on my father, SEMPER FI. 

 

  The old attorney gave me a hug; I don't think he was the hugging type.  - Nor am I.         

 

        He was hit by a car and killed two months later, right in front of the old Masonic Temple,  Simper Fi, I will never forget him or, what I always knew;  

 

     ALWAYS; 

 

     THAT PLASTERING WAS THE GREAT METAPHORICL ART REALISUM, AND TO ALL YOU beaten down 50, 60, 70 something, craftsmen,

 

 You have something they do not, and can never BUY, STEAL OR SCAM, 

    A SOLE EMBEDDED WITH INTEGRITY.  THE OLD ATTORNEY SAID SO.

 

kevin d. blanch May 4 2010 

 

blanchblanch2@gmail.com

 

  (I do not want to hear about my poor grammar, or spelling. I am after all an old plasterer, and you know it is a metaphor)
 

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