School may just need repairs


To the Editor:

For years I was an interior/exterior house painter. I’m retired, and I’m not looking for a job. I’ve never walked through the Tisbury School and assessed the work. My opinion is based only on the 17 pictures that are featured in Rich Saltzberg’s well-written article, “Responsibility for Tisbury School dilapidation elusive” (Feb. 19). Most or all of the minor damage seems to be located in storage rooms, utility rooms, or the insides of maintenance closets. I don’t know how large the staircase is, so I can’t estimate on how long that would take to sand, vacuum, patch, sand, vacuum, prime, and apply two coats, but the rest of the work could be done in the same fashion by two, skilled, painters in a week for less than $3,000.

The repairs featured in the pictures of this article are aesthetic, not structural, and you’ll find that these kinds of repairs are typical on older buildings throughout the world. Lead paint is also found on these older buildings, and is harmless as long as it is not peeling and is sealed with non-lead paint. The first picture of the drain pipe in this article was (I bet dollars to doughnuts) first painted with lead paint. That lead paint is still there, but the drainpipe is harmless, looks like crap, but is harmless unless some demented person chisels some paint off it and eats it. That pipe could easily be made to look like new without replacing it. I find it odd that the preservation of old buildings, on the Island and off, has become a revered ideology, yet for many it doesn’t apply to the Tisbury School. How old are the buildings at Harvard?

My point is that if these pictures represent the worst spots in need of repair in the school, they certainly don’t justify a teardown and rebuild.

Peter Pfluger
Vineyard Haven


  1. It goes far beyond paint. The bigger concerns center around the roof, windows, bricks, etc. Long list. Inspections have to be done on site. You can’t tell from photos whether a building is structurally sound. Harvard is exceptionally well maintained. Even so, they’ve had to renovate their oldest buildings. Tisbury can’t match Harvard’s financial resources, so options are limited. I am all for preserving original structures when possible but feel we should trust professionals to make that determination.

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