The skylight was on the original specs and plans for the building, which was dedicated in May of 1909. Since Marcia had her apartment at the top of the stairs on the fourth floor (far right), it would have lit up the whole area.
The skylight was originally covered during World War II, as many were during that period.
Blackout regulations were imposed on 1 September 1939, before the declaration of war. These required that all windows and doors should be covered at night with suitable material such as heavy curtains, cardboard or paint, to prevent the escape of any glimmer of light that might aid enemy aircraft.During the 1980's, MedChi received a grant from the Maryland Historic Trust to uncover the skylight, and it was open for about a decade or so. At some point, a roofer suggested that we cover it up to prevent future leaks. And so we did. We were not using Marcia's old apartment, so it didn't really matter if it was dark at the top of the stairs.
Fast forward to this year. We are now using the apartment for offices, and the top of the staircase is lit by one light, which was not enough to chase away the gloom.
We investigated opening the skylight again and began working with a local roofer on the project. They needed to uncover the skylight, and fabricate a clear cover to protect the leaded glass. Because the skylight is inset into the roof, there needed to be a way for the water not to pond on the glass. And of course, we wanted to protect the 110-year old glass.
After making sure it wasn't going to rain (haha) and bringing in a massive boom crane (with an extension!), the cover arrived and was placed on the roof.
Once that was finished, the old cover was pulled off, the leaded glass skylight was cleaned and the new cover was installed. It was an all-day job!
But when it was finished and the sun shone through it, we knew it was worth every bit of effort!
But of course, nothing's easy, is it? Once the top of the staircase was lit up with natural light, we realized that we needed to paint the walls (they are pink!) and also the stairs themselves. The darkness of the staircase hid a lot. But once we've accomplished the painting, it will be beautiful once again. We hope that this makes Marcia happy!