From the large stained glass dome ceiling inside to the rare Chinese bronze statues standing guard outside, the New Year is bringing extensive renewal to the historic Castle Warden, home of the original Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum.
Over the course of the next few months, The Castle Warden will be undergoing efforts to preserve its historic beauty and integrity. Built in 1886, the castle was the Warden family’s winter home and served as a bustling domicile for the large family. It then became a famous hotel owned by Norton Baskin and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and since 1950 it has been home to The Robert Ripley Memorial Museumbetter known as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
The renovations include most notably the restoration of the original stained-glass ceiling, which is believed to have been crafted by H. Schladermundt of the Decorative Glass Company of New York City. The entire stained-glass structure is to be painstakingly removed, piece by piece, to be refitted and restored to its original beauty. Advent Glass Works, from Gainesville, Florida will be undertaking this large project, in conjunction with the scaffolding services provided by A.D. Davis Co., of Jacksonville, Florida.
‘Li Che- and ‘King Kang, – the two Chinese generals whose statues have guarded the entrance to the St. Augustine museum for decades have been removed by Conservation of Sculpture & Objects Studio, Inc., for cleaning and restoration, and are being shipped to Chicago for expert repairs. The two statues represent the Guardians of Heaven, and their names mean, ‘Halt all Evil- and ‘Chase all Evil, – and should return to their place of prominence in St. Augustine before the summer.
Behind the scenes there will be the installation of a new roof, repairs to areas cracked with age, restoration of window moldings and the refurbishment of the original colors throughout. The front entrance awning is also being returned to its original look. The parking lot will be resurfaced as part of this large restoration project as well.
Ripley Entertainment feels its continued commitment to preserve and restore the historic legacy of the Castle Warden is something to be very proud of, and it will assure that many millions more may enjoy the beautiful elegance of this unique building in the years to come.
About Ripley’s Believe It or Not! – Ripley’s Believe It or Not! of St. Augustine, Fla., (www.staugustine-ripleys.com) was established in 1950 as the original Believe It or Not! Odditorium in the Ripley Entertainment family which today consists of 63 attractions in 11 countries. More than 13 million people visited Ripley’s attractions in 2007.
Ripley’s Believe It Not! Museum
19 San Marco Avenue
St. Augustine, FL 32084