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Grant number: PF-230287-15

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Preservation Society of Newport County (Newport, RI 02840-6924)
Charles Jeffers Moore (Project Director: December 2014 to March 2016)
Curtis H. Genga (Project Director: March 2016 to present)

Implementation of a Ground-Source Geothermal System at The Breakers for Dehumidification

An implementation project to install a geothermal system for climate control in the Gilded Age home of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, for the preservation of a collection of period art, artifacts, and furnishings. The collections encompass 3,000 fine and decorative arts objects, including custom-designed furniture, oil paintings, sculpture, textiles, and architectural decorations in various media—gilt leather, exotic wood paneling, painted walls, mosaics, and velvet and silk hangings. By moderating high relative humidity, the new climate control system would retard further deterioration of The Breakers’ diverse collections, maintain comfort for visitors, and reduce fuel costs.

The PSNC will install a geothermal system to moderate high relative humidity at its historic property, The Breakers. The primary objective is to safeguard a humanities collection important to research and interpretation of humanities themes related to Gilded Age America. A National Historic Landmark designed by Richard Morris Hunt for Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1893, The Breakers and its collections offer visitors and scholars an authentic experience of the period. The most significant outcome of the project will be a major improvement of interior relative humidity, preventing further deterioration of the collections and increasing comfort for the more than 350,000 people who visit each year. A second significant outcome will be a reduction in fuel costs; and a third significant outcome is the project’s contribution to the historic preservation field in developing innovative approaches to mitigating interior climate in large historic structures to safeguard collections.

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Project fields:
Architecture; Art History and Criticism; Cultural History

Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections

Preservation and Access

Total amounts:
$300,000 (approved)
$300,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 12/31/2017