"We thank thee all our God, with hearts and hands and voices!" Our hopes have been exceeded. When I began deGruchy Masonry Company 16 years ago I hoped to make a living using the valuable masonry trade I learned at the Williamson Trade School of Media, PA. Once business was rolling along, and we found ourselves busy restoring farmhouses, barns and vintage homes, it occurred to me that we should consider using our learned skills for service to the community. In a personal mission statement I wrote two years ago, I incorporated aid into our business plan to assist those stewards of historic buildings who have masonry preservation needs but lack part or all of the funds required to serve the building adequately. We are proud to share these photos which make the past two years of dreaming a reality come true.

Before restoration efforts
After completion of restoration

We always set our sights on doing quality craftsmanship likened to the trade forefathers of the 1800’s. We had committed to restore the two most visible sides of the Springfield Township One-Room School House in Bucks County at no cost to historic society. We accepted a $350.00 stipend offered through community donations which was to off-set our expenditure. The craftsmen of the 1800’s might not have received that much. It was good, however, to accept an appropriate payment for that era’s work having just attempted to perform the same old world craftsmanship to match.

The greatest blessing and payment, in my opinion, was to witness the miracle of countless hours that volunteers from the school’s historic society donated to bring in all the remaining elements needed for a complete restoration. They did it! Their faith and hard work moved mountains and we were truly blessed to take our rather minor part of the project in light of all that happened at the School’s whole transformation.

Along the course of the next year we were able to additionally "upgrade"our service to those churches and non-profit historic societies who hired us to perform masonry restoration for them. By this I mean we attempted to "go the extra mile" on behalf of the group’s goal of restoration. For example, in Tamaqua we recently put on a section of roof and took down an unwanted chimney for the Train Station. The work was outside the scope of our requirement from Penn DOT, but within the scope of the objective: correct historic restoration. We feel great about staying true to the love of the trade. When the work progressed I would think of a light hearted man, from Tamaqua’s own history book, named Frank Graeff (1860-1919). He was known to many back then as the "Sunshine Minister".

Graeff was born in Tamaqua and most likely rode that rail. He would have been 14 years old when the station was originally built. Graeff wrote over 200 hymns and one is the famous title "Does Jesus Care?" The lyrics of that hymn which include "When the days are weary, the long nights dreary" suggest that he was a man who felt burdened. Graeff did in fact know trouble in his personal life. He pressed on in his service nonetheless and kept smiling and writing hymns to become a blessing to many. As expected, some troubles can be a part of running a masonry restoration business. However, the hard times many face in the world today, as well as those troubles of Frank Graeff's time, only cause me to be thankful for our own good health and welfare. We thank God that we were able to make extra improvements to the scope of work at Tamaqua and other historic sites without adding more financial burden to the project. It is typical in restoration work to uncover unknown complications. These unknown factors, once exposed, open the way to give opportunity for us to attempt to become a blessing, as the Lord allows us, to more fully reach the group's objective within their budget. This Thanksgiving season we are glad for the many churches and historical societies we've served because it is fact that they serve us and strengthen our communities in Pennsylvania in numerous ways.
Open Bible Church, Lansdale, PA
Before Restoration Efforts
Open Bible Church
After Restoration Completion
Left to right, Andy Wasik, Andy deGruchy
The Lord did allow me to serve in directing the full exterior remodel at Open Bible Church of Lansdale while incurring no expense to the church for the roof, steeple and masonry work. A single donor chose to improve the exterior sanctity of this church building so that it clearly portrayed itself as "A House of the Lord". The exterior beauty now only shadows the beauty of a very committed congregation of around 80 people who serve the community from this location. Open Bible runs a food bank ministry which serves hundreds of families in the Lansdale area. In my own heart, the crowning element of the exterior make-over was to allow my good friend from Poland, Andy Wasik, to fabricate a brass and copper cross for the top of the steeple. He and I put within the pinnacle's design a copper 'open bible' at the foot of the brass cross which also has a light hidden between the two. At night the light automatically stays lit and shines up on the cross, (or as it were, down upon the open bible). This illuminated open bible and cross personalize the name of the church as well as the congregation's "light of faith" which shines heavenward by its nightly trimmed lamp.

For the future, my own objective is to continue to strongly support our building heritage along with the values held dear by each congregation or historic society that has assembled itself to guard, protect and maintain their presence and beliefs at each historic structure. Continuing from my last newsletter, I again put out the call to any person or group who recognizes the need for some intervention into the maintenance of a beloved building’s historic fabric. If funds for this treasured work are completely in place, partially in place, or even non-existent, with the will to reach the objective as exceedingly great, please contact me by phoning 215-536-4482. Or visit our website at www.degruchymasonry.com. If you mail or e-mail a response that answers the five questions listed within our Master Edition of ‘The Common Bond’ we would greatly appreciate it. You can find these questions posted on our website by clicking on “Newsletter” and go to page three. To thank you for your time, we will send you a gift of two 30 minute, pre-paid, phone cards issued through the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission (PHMC). These cards come with vouchers for free admission to 26 PHMC sites and museums when another full price admission is purchased at each site. The phone cards are good for domestic and international calling while the pre-paid proceeds goes to support our PHMC. If you don’t have internet access please call 215-536-4482 to request the Master Edition of the Common Bond and we will gladly mail you a copy.