COVINGTON - An Ohio company best known for creating modernistic metalworks has helped return the property of Covington's oldest brick house to former glory by replicating iron fence at the historic property.
The nearly 200-year-old Carneal House, at 405 E. Second St., is named for Thomas D. Carneal, a founder and one of the prominent citizens of Covington. There is some debate about whether Carneal actually built the house.
Working to replicate the iron fencing around the building, Patrick Dalton, the owner of Elegant Iron Studios, learned the once very popular pattern, which replicates pillars and balustrades - except with iron as the material - no longer is manufactured.
"This casting was produced by one of the foundries that existed in the 1800s in Cincinnati," Dalton said. He believes the manufacturer was the Lane & Bodley Foundry, which was in the Lower West End.
The home's owners, Steve and Connie Bishop, have been commended for their restoration of the circa 1815 building by the Cincinnati Preservation Association and received a Friends of Covington beautification award.
"I'm frustrated as a consumer or as an artist when I see a need that isn't being met, so I step up to fill those needs," Dalton said.
There was a side benefit to the fact the fencing is not made today. Because of that, Elegant Iron, located about 20 miles northeast of Middletown, had to create its castings from the original 1800s fence, which had noticeable pitting and dents.
And as a result, "All of the new castings show the same weathering over time so they do not look new," Dalton said. "They look of the period," complete with the dinks two centuries can bring.
The fence pattern was so popular in the Cincinnati region that it appears on the cover of a pamphlet created by the Betts House Research Center about decorative iron work in Cincinnati.
The owners also needed a version of the ironwork that instead of being perfectly horizontal could be angled upward along their property. So the company created new fittings to create those angled transition areas.
"That was one of the big challenges, to be able to modify the casting and have new castings made, to make that work," Dalton said.
Such work doesn't come cheap: Dalton estimated much of his firm's historical work ends up costing $150 to $300 per linear foot.
In March Elegant Iron won a silver award for outstanding craftsmanship in an international competition sponsored by the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association, for its Carneal work. Todd Daniel, the association's executive director, noted the competition was open to more than 700 member companies in this country and 12 foreign nations.
Winning the award has a special meaning because it expresses a "voice of approval" from industry peers, Daniel said.
"We seek out challenging projects that test our abilities, and we're constantly pushing what we're capable of, and what we're into," Dalton said. "And I enjoy filling niches that aren't filled by anyone else."