Riley Iron Works Foundry Origin of 1907 White Point Gardens Bandstand

Recent restoration of the circa 1907 bandstand at White Point Gardens has revealed a foundry mark with Charleston origins on the bases of the cast iron columns.
Dustin Clemens, Project Manager of the White Point Gardens Restoration Project for the City of Charleston Parks Dept. took this photo of the John F Riley Iron Works foundry stamp from a bandstand column undergoing restoration on Aug. 13, 2009.

A John F Riley operated his foundry on South St. in Chas. in the early 1900's according to research by Dr. Nicholas Butler, Manager of the Charleston Archive at the Chas. Co. Library. This John F Riley was the brother of Andrew J. Riley, the grandfather of Charleston's present mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr.

Aug. 15, 2009, I had a chance to see the restoration work in progress at Charles Blanchard Construction Co.. Numerous layers of old paint and rust have been removed and a coating of primer paint has been applied to the ironwork. The columns, with the foundry mark now clearly visible after removal of decades of paint are resting on wooden supports awaiting additional repairs.

David Rowland, of TonMar Industries is seen here restoring one of the 8 bandstand arches. The grey areas on the arches indicate the locations of original foundry repairs to the iron work due to casting flaws. These areas are undergoing additional stabilization and restoration.

As a sculptor who has both built and cast from molds, I appreciate the skill and degree of complexity that was involved in casting this ironwork. Looking at the riveted attachments and casting supports inside the iron arches was a trip back in time.

The fact that these cast iron columns and arches of the bandstand have withstood the damaging effects of over 100 years in a subtropical climate of heat, humidity, salt air, and hurricane force winds is a testament to the work of the John F. Riley Iron Works of Charleston, SC.


David Rowland said...

I enjoyed talking to you Friday about the Bandstand restoration. I have one minor correction-this project is through my company, TonMar Industries, for Blanchard Construction. It is a monumental project for me and my associate, Kevin Blanchard and something I am taking great pride in. Each moment I spend bringing it back to life reminds me of the importance of historic preservation and I can't help but to drift a little back to 1907 and contemplate what may have been going through the minds of the original manufacturers of this amazing sculpture.

Katherine Muschick Schneider said...

Hi David,
I've added a link to your company TonMar Industries in the blog post. I enjoyed meeting you and talking about the Bandstand project.
Hope all continues to go well with your preservation of the bandstand.

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