Welland Museum gets brand new (100-year-old) doors courtesy of college students

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Published May 12, 2023 at 2:40 pm

Faculty and students in Niagara College’s School of Trades who designed and constructed 1920-era replica doors which were installed at the Welland Museum and unveiled today. From left, student Hyuk (Evan) Kim, student Dongwoo Kang, technician Marco Giorgi, Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, professor Alex Lukacs, student Patrick Silva, professor Brendan Ryan, professor Bob Lukacs, Vice-President, Advancement, Gord Arbeau, and Associate Dean of Trades, Jeff Murrell.

It’s not so much that the Niagara College School of Trades students built new front doors for the Welland Museum.

No, the fact is they build an exact replica of the doors the building (then the Welland Library) had when it was constructed in 1923 – a century ago – using the original blueprints. Modern technology and skills met old-time craftsmanship.

With the custom work by carpentry and welding on the Carnegie heritage building’s doors, it was a step back in time.

The doors were unveiled today (May 12) in a celebration, attended by Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch, representatives from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Welland Councillor Bonnie Fokkens, CEO of the Welland Library Julianne Brunet, and Chair of the Welland Museum Greg D’Amico, as well as a handful of students and faculty.

“The Museum is very impressed with the work done by Niagara College for the reconstructed doors. The building has now been restored to its original grand appeal,” said D’Amico.

“Niagara College is passionate about and embedded in the communities we serve and we are honoured to support the efforts of the Welland Museum to bring the history of our community to life,” said Jeff Murrell, Niagara College Associate Dean of the School of Trades.

The collaborative project was led by Carpentry and Renovation professor Alexander Lukacs, lab technician Marco Giorgi, and a team of student volunteers – in partnership with Welding professors Brendan Ryan, Vic Barker and technologist Bob Lukacs – who devoted their time to this community project.

Lukacs jumped at the chance to work on the doors which he described as a “once-in-a-lifetime” restoration project. He saw the potential for his students to have a unique learning opportunity to advance their skills, try out new techniques, and work with premium construction materials.

“It was an incredible experience to watch these students progress over two years and see them build their confidence on such a complex project,” said Lukacs.

“Our students are the reason we are here; we cannot operate without them and so it is our duty to provide them the best education we can.”

Carpentry and Renovation Technician students Dongwoo Kang and Hyuk (Evan) Kim from South Korea, Patrick Silva from Hamilton, and Jose Antonio Sandoval Sanchez from Guatemala volunteered over 200 hours of their time to work with Lukacs after class.

“This project reinvigorated my interest in historic restoration projects and more artistic work in fine carpentry,” Silva explained as he helped with laminating and milling the boards for the doors.

For Silva, the true value in the project was the one-on-one instruction and the chance to give back to a local organization.

“I’ve learned a lot from (Carpentry professor) Alex (Lukas) in a short amount of time. It means a lot to us as students because we’ve had the chance to experience his expertise in a unique way,” said Silva. “Alex will sit down with you until you get it right, no matter how long it takes.”

 

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