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The Eliot House Senior Common Room was damaged Sunday night by steam escaping from a broken radiator. The steam damaged several valuable paintings and antiques in the room before Building and Grounds officials discovered the leak.
The paintings, which included three whistlers and a portrait of T. S. Eliot '10 by Wyndham Lewis, were not seriously harmed, said Elizabeth Jones, chief conservator of the Fogg Art Museum. She said, however, that a portrait of Theodore Spencer, owned by Eliot House, "appeared badly blanched and will require extensive investigation to determine what sort of treatment is required."
The steam also warped a veneer 18th century Chippendale-style secretary desk in the room, which will require "considerable treatment," Miss Jones said.
According to Buildings and Grounds officials, who discovered the damage early Monday morning, a valve in one of the radiators cracked, leaking water and steam throughout the room. Wood paneling on the wall warped and cracked in several places, and the wooden floor was extensively damaged by water.
"It's not a disaster, but it's a mess," said Alan Heimert '49, Master of Eliot House. "First this cold weather brings women into breakfast at the dining hall, now it blows up steam pipes."
Eliot House officials said that the heating in the room had been operating poorly for several years but did not speculate about the immediate cause of the accident.
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