A broken attic window in Philadelphia and a hankerin' for lunch at Hank's Place now have Charlie and Rena Cuno preparing their Chadds Ford home for a dream to come true.
They are turning their Creek Road house into a small specialty museum dedicated to lithography -- the art of printing images drawn with greasy ink on smoothed limestone.
Township officials, supervisors and Zoning Hearing Board gave the necessary approvals with conditions for the project in the spring of 2005, and the Cunos are now making the required improvements to the property so they can open the museum in the latter part of 2006.
They've widened the driveway and are adding pavers, but will still have to modify a side door entrance and exit and improve smoke detectors and alarms, among other things.
"We still need L&I approval and approval from Mr. Jensen [township building inspector Richard Jensen]," Charlie Cuno said. He hopes to open the museum sometime in late summer or mid-autumn.
As a specialty museum, the Cunos don't foresee much traffic, definitely no more than that of their next-door neighbor, the Christian C. Sanderson Museum.
Cuno's museum will be for educational programs on how prints are made from stone, how the image is processed and how the prints are pulled.
The centerpiece is an old lithographic press used by Charlie Cuno's great uncle Theodore Cuno, who worked with, among others, noted artists Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd from his Philadelphia shop during the 1930s and into the 1950s.
"Peter Hurd would draw on the limestone plate with a lithographic crayon, then Theodore Cuno would take the plate and make the print," said the printer's great nephew.
Hurd lived in New Mexico and would haul the heavy stones, weighing between 40 and 70 pounds, to Theodore Cuno's shop in Philadelphia in a horse trailer.
"He worked at his home and at the Lattimer Print Club in Philadelphia."
"He was one of the four greatest print makers in U.S. lithography," Cuno said. He added that he had read that in a newspaper article but didn't know where the article is.
Cuno said he found the press, an old 1880 Bronstrup hand-cranked lithography press made from cast iron, and thousands of prints while clearing out his parents' attic and basement in Philadelphia about 1991.
It was finding the prints that got things rolling toward a museum in Chadds Ford.
Cuno said he called the Philadelphia Museum of Art and learned that some of the prints could have educational value to historians and educators. Ironically, it was his fathers' failure to repair the attic window that kept the prints in good shape. The broken window allowed better air circulation that preserved the paper.
Charlie Cuno said he wanted a place where he could have all the prints and the press in one location. He and Rena were living in New Jersey at the time when he had an idea.
"One day [in January 1999] I said to my wife I'd like to take a trip to Chadds Ford, Hank's diner in Chadds Ford. We came for lunch and Rena saw the 'For Sale' sign on the house. We approached the owner and subsequently bought the house," he said.
Aside from the old press, now dominating the Cunos dining room, and some original stones, the museum will also display artworks from a variety of artists including John Moll, from the Eastern shore of Maryland, Ben Spruance, Hurd and others, about 57 artists in all, Charlie Cuno said. There could also be more, and some of that from contemporary artists.
Rena Cuno is a student of Chadds Ford artist Karl Kuerner. She said they hope to have Kuerner draw on some stones so they can print some lithographs of his work.
Rena and Charlie have both taken classes in lithography at the Pennsylvania Academy of fine Arts.
The Cunos will also have a small barn-like out building from where they plan to sell artwork, some by Kuerner and Rena Cuno, and sell some Chadds Ford related souvenirs.
They agreed when they were given zoning variances that no more than 731 square feet of floor space would be used for the museum and that no more than 657 square feet would be used for the gift shop.