Called on by the National Park Service to modernize the HVAC system of the home of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, IL, Henson Robinson relied on its expertise with historical sites and on Carrier HVAC products to upgrade the system without disrupting visitors or disturbing the site. Despite the challenges, the project went smoothly.
The Lincoln Home National Historic Site has a mission to preserve, protect, and interpret the house where Lincoln and his family lived for 17 years prior to his election to the presidency of the United States. The Lincoln Home, which emphasizes the relevance of Lincoln’s life to people living today, provides an educational experience for more than 200,000 visitors a year, in addition to preserving numerous historical furnishings and artifacts associated with Lincoln. Historical accuracy and period-appropriate appearance are important goals for the facility, which replicates the home’s appearance in 1860, when the Lincolns moved to Washington, DC.
Because Willis Carrier did not invent modern air conditioning until 1902, several decades after Lincoln’s lifetime, the original Carrier HVAC system at the home was cleverly concealed to provide appropriate conditions while hiding any traces of the modern air delivery system, which is located in the security railings. The existing HVAC system had been in service for 25 years, longer than its expected lifetime, so the facilities staff sought to replace it.
Dale Phillips, superintendent at the site, said, “The project was important to the Lincoln Home National Historical Site because it allowed us to accomplish one of our primary goals, which is the long-term protection of the Lincoln Home and its contents for future generations.”
The Lincoln Home remained open to the public while renovations took place. Working in the basement and yard, Henson Robinson disassembled and removed the old HVAC equipment and replaced it with a Carrier AquaSnap® 30RA air-cooled chiller and an Aero® 39M air handler. The air handler was installed in the basement of the historic home, while the chiller was placed in a modern but period-designed outbuilding that also serves as a warehouse for artifacts not currently needed for display. The buried coolant loop that connected the original chiller and air handler was also updated, necessitating the services of an archaeologist to oversee the digging in the yard, in case the contractors found any historical objects.
The Aero 39MN air handler includes an electric heater, so the unit is able to provide both heating and cooling to the Lincoln Home. In an interesting adaptation, fresh air enters the system via dampers in an old chimney. Two dehumidifiers and a steam-powered humidifier serve to keep the relative humidity at the target 50 percent ideal for both human health and artifact preservation. In the hot and humid summer months typical of Springfield, the AquaSnap 30RA chiller provides additional cooling capacity by sending chilled water to the air handler via the loop buried under the yard.
Mark Patrick, project manager for Henson Robinson, said, “It was an interesting challenge to perform this installation with a minimum of disruption to the visitors and staff. The components of the air handler had to be delivered through a standard three-foot-wide door, and we could not so much as drill a hole without permission from the staff. However, the project was very successful, and we believe our founder, Henson Robinson—who himself was a neighbor of Lincoln’s and provided cutlery for the Union Army during the Civil War—would have been proud.”
For more information, call 800-CARRIER or visit carrier.com/commercial. MCAA thanks Carrier Corporation for being a major sponsor of MCAA 2016 and for cosponsoring the Annual Dessert Party featuring Andy Grammer and the Annual Golf Tournament.