Incredible Shrinking Museum

Last week I told you that the crime scene tape was coming up: well, I didn't find the yellow variety, but red and white stripes will do just fine. TALIM crime scene tape

I don't want this to be a one-note blog, but these days of torrential rains and raw weather has put building concerns front and center.  Try heating a 45-room historic monument when your furnace consumes 4 gallons of fuel oil per hour.

The room at right, adjacent to Malcolm Forbes' collection of toy soldiers and his library of books on Morocco, has had to be closed off to museum visitors.  The water streaks on the walls are indicative of a larger problem: the ceiling is starting to fall down.

Now, this isn't just any ceiling, but is part of Diplomatic Agent Maxell Blake's Arab Pavilion from the 1930s.  This building, made of materials gathered from across the Maghrib, is emblematic of the American Legation.  And Blake did it with a $22,000 Congressional appropriation.

Quietly, visibly, sadly, it is falling apart.

When I arrived here in early July, I wrote about the rotting doors that local cats were in the habit of drilling holes into.  It's only a matter of time until they get to the Pavilion's "hand carved oak Hispano-Arabic door, probably of the 16th century," as the Foreign Service Journal in 1932 described the just-completed Pavilion entrance.

It pains me to see this place in such condition.  I'm waiting to see the "Historic Structures Report" that the State Department's OBO commissioned a year ago.  Will today's stewards of this historic building show the kind of imagination and fortitude that Maxwell Blake possessed when he arrived here a century ago?

Will I have the patience to wait while bureaucracy grinds away?

Gerald Loftus    

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