Biography of Andrew L. deGruchy

Andy deGruchy is the owner of, the nation's leading manufacturer and distributor of “green” historic preservation and sustainable building mortars, plasters and paints based on lime and not Portland cement. His lime-based materials are used for durable, appropriate, time-tested historic masonry restoration campaigns. Due to the correlation between a lower embodied energy in production to final recycling of the limes, Andy also distributes these exceptional life-cycle materials for sustainable building systems which yield substantial CO2 credits. In 1979, Andy received a full scholarship for a three-year program to study and practice masonry from the nation's oldest private trade school, The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades in Media, PA. founded in 1888. He received their “Key” award for the advancement of its founding ideals. He maintains a few specialty crews which have operated through the past 31 years as deGruchy Masonry Restoration. They have restored hundreds of historic buildings in the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys of Pennsylvania. Andy holds lectures and training workshops on the subject of historic masonry restoration and sustainable building. Andy is active in promoting volunteerism to educate about and protect our American institution which includes our natural and built environments. He finds that working to preserve our cultural resources as they are found and interpreted through regional vintage architecture, including our nation’s historical burial grounds, is his life’s work and his best area of service to the conservation industry.
Common Bond Archive

Why you should send your kids to tradeschool:

"My mother has always been unhappy with what I do, She would much rather I do something nicer, like be a bricklayer.'' ... Mick Jagger REDBOOK MAY 1992

More About The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades


World View and Faith Story of Andrew L. deGruchy

Andy deGruchy's "Faith Story." This is the story of how Andy got into the masonry trade...and a whole lot more about his own personal World View:

When I was in my senior year, at North Penn High School in Lansdale, PA, I began to think seriously about what direction I would take for a career. I enrolled in a Career Study program to explore "the trades" because I did not know what I would want to major in if I went to college...and I had zippo bucks. I prayed to God for direction, or bucks, or both. I found posted on the career bulletin board at the high school, a flyer for a free trade education at Williamson. I applied.

They favor kids born in Philadelphia first. I was born in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. They favor kids who have a financial need due to a hardship since the school was modeled after the Girard School of Philadelphia for orphans and the misfortunate. I was not an orphan. But like so many kids whose parents divorce and leave mom holding the bag...(the bag of kids that is)...we had no money and dad wasn't helping. They favor kids who have good grades in high school and can produce three references for their character. I was on the honor roll most of my senior year. I was, and I guess I still am, a character. So character references were obtained.

This is key stuff: One reference was from my employer at North Penn Hospital where I washed pots and pans for two years...a job I always loved because although they didn't pay a lot, the gray-haired lady cooks fed you cookies right-out of the oven and made a fuss over you...and they loved my pots and pans Eiffel towers and monuments that I would build out of the tinwear to entertain I was big on their list.

My second reference was from my pastor. I never knew what he said. He sealed the envelope. But let me mention that the whole "pastor" deal was foreign to me except for the previous year's events..and that leads to my third reference.

My third reference was from the principal of the High School, Mr. Matusky. There is a story behind this, the over-the-top reference that most likely opened the doors of Williamson to me. In 10th and most of 11th grade I knew Mr. Matusky and his office staff quite intimately.

Going through "those years of change" caused me to become a challenge to every hierarchy including the office of the principal. However, secretly I knew I wanted to do what was right and so I tried to pursue the question...what is right? You can't pursue that question without religion getting in there somehow. Finding "religion" is exactly what happened next. Someone broke the pattern of human nature and I witnessed it. Whereas most everyone simply follows their own selfish agenda...I met a few highschoolers that were so stable in their view of who they were that they did not need to" knock another down" to build up their own self-esteem....and they stuck out like a sore thumb on campus. However, I didn't know what to make of them. Was this an act? What do they really want? To my amazement I found them to be completely sincere. They became my friends, (that wasn't too hard...since I didn't need to bring anything to the table, I needed no "front"). Fortunately I still am friends with those I've managed to keep up with, even though they are now scattered around the country and even the world.

Anyway, I asked myself,  Who are 'these people'? I found out they were just kids who all were affected by the late breaking...old news....the "good news" A.K.A. "the gospel". I heard it too. I actually heard it many times before, but it did not mean anything to me. With my peers attached to the gospel message as a live example of the power God can have in someone's life, I suddenly realized that the message was not just linked-words but a changed life. I figured it was a life-changing style. I figured “I can do that.” I'll just mold my outward life to match the same seemingly sincere but pious exterior of these new friends.

Soon I found out that I needed a complete overhaul not just a paint job...and I realized that the flow of anything good that can come from me cannot come solely from my own effort but from something greater... that was soon to be within me. I made room in my Inn, the "Inn" of my heart, for Jesus the savior.

I understood that I was a sinner. I understood I needed a savior. With these two acknowledgments I was now equally tied with Satan in mental affirmation of spiritual position. He too is a sinner who needs a savior. Big whoop. The next chess piece to move was actually my forfeiture of the game.

I gave up. I gave it God. I said, "I know I'm a sinner, I know I need a savior. I cannot save myself and I don't know I don't want to try to calculate these chess moves anymore...I want you to do the bidding for me.
I turn my will over to you. Jesus, please enter into my dark, dingy, unworthy and cluttered heart and do some of that fancy redecorating...It needs sprucing up in here." He said, "OK". Now I heard no audible voice. I saw no apparition. I only had a 6th sense button in my heart initialized....and it was there that I knew that God was real. 

I knew He ordered the events of my life so that I could have this revelation.  I knew I might now be hosting the most impressive guest my humble fleshly abode might ever encounter...yes, the God of the universe resided, in-part, in Andy deGruchy. But when He finds out how messed-up it is in here maybe He'll pack up and go back to Zion!  38 years later, trust me, I still do not feel worthy. But I have to acknowledge that the 6th sense button is still "on" after 38 years, despite my own short-comings. God has ordered my life in magnificent ways and I believe has called me to both attempt great things and to live a life worthy of his calling and to tell my story in hope that it may give hope to one who hears it and they too would stop calculating and start trusting Jesus for meeting all of their needs... up to and including their most pressing need: the salvation of their soul. Well, I was in...hook, line and sinker.

Back to Mr. Matusky. I had such a violent and immediate change in personality that for two more years of school I had him scratching his head and asking..."what got into that kid?" I thought that if he knew I became a christian it would cause him to write me off as just "going through a phase", that for his sake would fortunately require less maintenance of my behavior.

So, instead of ever admitting my new-found relationship with Jesus, I just tried to prove it with doing what was right. It worked. For a year and half later, when I asked him for a reference to the Williamson School, he grinned and began to order me into his office, (a familiar, but confusingly distant gesture), where he intercoms his secretary for the phone number of the Williamson School.

After he finished dialing the number and as the phone was ringing, he put the handset to his shoulder and said quickly and coyly...“did I mention that the Director of Education/Admissions at Williamson was my bunk-mate in the service?" I sat there paralyzed. If ever a flush feeling of absolutely not doubting the presence of God came to me after my original was then.

Again, I felt the hand of God confirming to me that my giving him the game would only result in giving Him opportunity to prove that He is in control and that He would order events far better than I could have manipulated them on my own accord.

I was accepted to the Williamson Free School Of Mechanical Trades. Praise God! I lived there three years to study only the masonry trade. Thanks to my instructor, the late Stacey Cartledge, I had the love of the trade, (p.s.- which is key to actually getting a good job from any craftsman), transferred to me and to many of my fellow classmates from him. I thank God that the current instructor also has a love for the trade...and the young men now attending will soon catch the fire from him and carry it to many applications that will affect the future quality of our built environment.

Finally, I thank Timothy Sharadin, the volunteer staff leader of Young Life International, North Penn High School Club, (the youth organization which presented to me the gospel for my consideration during my high school years). Without having heard the Word, I would not have had opportunity to receive the Word, or change the course of my life. Now you have heard the Word. It’s in my own words...but "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” Romans 10:17. “The Lord has called me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to prisoners” Isaiah 61:1.

Are you a prisoner of your own selfishness, captive by the base things of this world?  Let me tell you then: "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him", Hebrews 11:6.

Psalm 37:5 says: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, and He will do it.” Do what? He will give you the faith required in order to believe Him. Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” In case you don’t know, the desires of your heart is to love and to be loved, to know and to be fully known...and except for God’s example of what pure love is, we do not have the ability to truly love outside of Him, for God is love, (1John 4:8). But He sacrificed everything to prove His love toward us, (Romans 8:32), “Since He did not spare even His own Son for us, but gave Him up for us all, won't He also surely give us everything else? What is ‘everything else’? Everything else is relief from guilt, dropping the baggage of past sins, freedom to live victoriously, fighting the good fight that spirals upward and ends up in eternal salvation.

Everything else is having the opportunity to be God’s hands, God's eyes, God’s feet, God’s mind, God’s mouth in continuing the people-ministry of Jesus. Psalm 147:3 says “He heals the broken hearted, binding up their wounds"...You can pick up on what He started and be focused outward instead of inward...that is the gift of “everything else”. Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” and Psalm 51:17 "A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not ignore."

Isaiah 66:2 "I will look with pity on the man who has a humbled and a contrite heart, who trembles at my word." Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t wait until we got our act together. He doesn’t want you to clean yourself up first and then come to him.
He takes you just as you are at this present moment and says in 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

The truth is: Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 1:12 "But as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name."

Who gives you the right to say you are akin to Jesus? God does! Because guess what? “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. The verse basically says that He made Jesus become sin so we could go free and be examples of God’s righteousness.

If you are thinking... “It would be great to dump all my sin baggage on Jesus and go free but I am not the kind of person who can live up to the standard of living for God”, then the bible says this to you in Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." He will help you.

Psalm 34:7 says "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and rescues them." and Ephesians 3:20:"Now to him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” You couldn't ask or even think so many advantageous chess moves ahead towards your advancement than God could for you!! Isaiah 58:8 says what will suddenly happen to you: “Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth: and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard." Romans 8:31 challenges every possible fear with the rhetorical question: “If God is for us, who can be against us?" because... “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world”, (1 John 1:4).

So 1 John 4:18-19 sums up why there should be no fear in trusting God and giving up your life to him: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” So, He is love. He and His love can live in you. He will cast out the fears you have. He will protect and defend you. He will allow you the freedom to love and to be loved.

This is the challenge of 1 John: 7-8...Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” need his power to be able to love ... “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

You and I and Williamson and Masonry for that matter will not last forever..."but the word of our God shall stand forever." Isaiah 40:8. And I just quoted that eternal word of God to you. Here is the conclusion. Receive Him as Savior...Luke 12:7 says He knows the number of hairs on your head! No one cares for you more than God.

Jesus himself invites all in Matthew 11:28-30 to “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy and my load is light.” God’s word says in 1 John 5:12 " He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life." Do you want to have the Son? If you do, it is as simple as asking him to forgive you of your sin and asking him to come in and live in your heart and perform all that I just quoted from scripture. He will do this because he is not a liar. He will do more as is cited in Romans 8:11: “And if the Spirit of God, who raised up Jesus from the dead, lives in you, he will make your dying bodies live again after you die, by means of this same Holy Spirit living within you."

You will also be raised eternal like Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 "Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive." Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me. The bible says it : “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4: 12). Jesus is it.

My advice to all who have read this far is to go quickly then and make peace with Jesus while you are still on the way through your journey in life, for if you spurn the gift of forgiveness that He offers you now, you will find that He will return wearing a robe of judgment instead of the gentle shepherd’s garb that he first came in.

In the lesson of reconciliation recorded in Luke 12: 58-59, He refers to your own future judgment as your opponent and that you must settle with that fate quickly. If you don’t, your sin will turn you over to the judge and the judge to the constable and the constable will throw your soul into eternal condemnation and remain there until you have paid back every last cent.

I hate to have to say it so bluntly, but the Bible as well, does not mince words when referring to eternal damnation. It is forever. Jesus acknowledges it in Matthew 25: 41-46. And yes, I think it is pretty extreme and when I wonder if we deserve such punishment I am met with the fact that we also are not meant to deserve such grace and goodness such as the forgiveness first offered and that God the Father is not taking lightly the payment of His Son, (via death), for something He, Jesus, didn't do.

Please consider to allow Jesus to be the Rock of your salvation, the cornerstone of your own life by receiving God's free gift of forgiveness found by Jesus' payment for your sin. If your loved one asked you for something you would try to do what you can to accommodate the request. If you ask God for forgiveness, he will forgive you and He has already made provision to do so awaiting your move. I hope this message moves you and I ask you to please e-mail me and tell me the wonderful news of your new found belief or encouragement from what I have written from my heart to yours.

Science now unequivocally determines through DNA proof that we all come from a common first mother.  The answer to the ever looming remaining question, (Who is the father?), is simply answered through this quiet still voice:

Now you've got me started on philosophy so here's more on citizenship and duty:

The United States of America and its Heritage

The central theme in the inheritance we receive as citizens of the US is the ideals of a country which are epitomized by the famous words contained in our Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

Protecting the ideals of our national heritage is similar to protecting historic structures. Both need to be accomplished or both will disappear. In either the case of historic preservation of a physical structure or the preservation of a worthy ideal, skilled practitioners must go back to the root of what was the designer's original intent to uncover and understand the essence of the object. A correct interpretation of what is the original fabric and what is the detrimental baggage it has picked up along the way must be determined. Then one can prescribe remedies to reverse the inappropriate and conserve the original fabric. Choosing "in-kind" or non-detrimental complementary components to complete the missing or broken parts of the object or ideal can then be effectively accomplished. Finally, with everything in place, a perpetual conservation plan can be formulated to keep the object or ideal saved into perpetuity.

This is the protocol for affecting a substantial conservation work upon a historic structure and should be the same for all objects that represent the ideals of our National heritage.

The reason we should consider applying the same principles of conservation used on historic structures to any worthy non-tangible ideal is to strengthen the valuable fabric of our entire community for its effectiveness now and for our children's children and their well-being. Restored objects only bear witness to the importance we place on them. However, if only the physical buildings were restored and only they were put into a state of conservation then we would only have pseudo-museums of our forefather's external world. That would not represent the essence of who they were fully.

Main Streets would look perfected but the soul of the nation would decline if the heart of the ideals were not equally protected and likewise put into conservation. Many who are in conservation are working hard toward accomplishing both. Many however have no use for certain ideals and are attempting to re-write history. The purpose of this section of our web site is to support the historical ideals mentioned above from the Declaration of Independence. With the help of the History Channel I have listed some recorded speeches named below that capture certain themes. If we capture the essence of these themes in ourselves and strengthen them in ourselves as individuals it will make us all part of the collective good and lead us to a solution to many problems in our own lives and in our country in my opinion.

I don't believe that anyone can affect a building properly if they don't know what it is made of or how it was constructed. No one can even begin to design a plan to help put anything into conservation if they don't first find out root facts about the object. Rushing into "restoration" happens every day and that not without consequence.

More time, money and valuable effort is wasted when issues only get revisited again and again because the depth of understanding, which is foundational to the effort, was not complete. I hope that you agree with me that the United States of America is the greatest nation in the history of the world and worthy of both the conservation of its historic and cultural resources and the ideals housed by them.

Our country has attempted to allow all people, who are considered as equal, to pursue their own life, liberty and happiness. Although we have become accustomed to it as Americans, our freedoms are only a novel idea that could be swept away by the bulldozers of special interest groups. Special interest groups are within our borders as well as outside our country's borders. Historic structures are vanishing across the American landscapes. Landscapes are vanishing across America's landscapes. Age-old businesses that have produced the best goods in the world are also vanishing because of those who have no need for them in their agenda to rob America of its assets for quick and dirty gain.

A personal freedom for each countryman has not been the cornerstone for most forms of government in the history of the world. I think that there are many in the world don't like that we, the people of the United States, stand for personal freedoms. I think that by understanding the minds of our founding fathers, who designed our constitution, we will keep in the forefront of our own minds the facts needed to effect any conservation effort that may be substantial in protecting our national heritage in what ever form it takes. Thank God for the USA!

Please read and consider the following quotes and if you have the time please get on the History Channel and listen to the mpeg recorded speeches listed below and e-mail me your thoughts.

Thanks for your time.


Andrew deGruchy


Quotes from Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Lincoln and the bible commentator John R. W. Stott.

Thomas Jefferson, a main architect of our constitution said:
"Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."

Thomas Jefferson, 1781, third U.S. president and principal author of the Declaration of Independence. [Cited in Saul K. Padover, ed., The Complete Jefferson, Query XVII (New York: Tudor Publishing, 943), p. 677.] )

This quote contradicts those historical revisionists who contend that Jefferson wanted a "wall of separation" to protect the government from people of faith. The great gift we have in the United States of America is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

John Adams, America's third president, said; "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridles by morality and religion...Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

John Adams, 1798, first U.S. vice-president and second U.S. president. Cited in Charles Frances Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States (Little, Brown and Co., 1954), IX, p. 229.

Benjamin Franklin said:
"I've lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men.
If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that 'except the Lord build the house they labor in vain who build it.' I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel."

Benjamin Franklin, 1787. Cited in Gallard Hart and James Brown Scott, ed., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States, reported by James Madison (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1970), p. 81.]

President Lincoln designated April 30th as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer.  Let me read a portion of his proclamation on that occasion: "It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, who owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by a history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

The awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has grown, but we have forgotten God."  
"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own...It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness." 

Abraham Lincoln, 1863. Cited in Anson Phelps Stokes, Church and State in the United States (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1950), vol. 3, p. 186.]

Bible commentator John R. W. Stott said;

What, then, is the biblical basis for social concern? Why should Christians get involved? In the end there are only two possible attitudes which Christians can adopt towards the world: Escape OR Engagement.

'Escape' means turning our backs on the world in rejection, washing our hands of it and steeling our hearts against its agonized cries for help.

In contrast, 'engagement' means turning our faces towards the world in compassion, getting our hands dirty, sore and worn in its service, and feeling deep within us the stirring of the love of which cannot be contained.

If we truly love our neighbors, we shall be concerned for their total welfare, the well-being of their soul, their body and their community."

[John R. W. Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 1995),
pp. 14, 19.]

Famous Speeches

A theme of what seems to make people happy in the following speeches is the opportunity afforded in the great USA for encouraging creativity, ingenuity and industriousness for improving life for ourselves and our families and the community around us. Look for the theme of "teamwork", "courage", "rising to the challenge" in the following recorded speeches. These traits have historically been what American's are made of. Good stuff.

In my mind I believe that the root of all our troubles and any expenditure of unproductive energy is greed and its partner, Fear. I think we are all familiar with this part of human nature and I hear this theme going on in the following recorded speeches:

The restoration of a building begins with a desire to bring things back to what they were for our own enjoyment and for the enjoyment of future generations. The preservation of the founding ideals in the United States Declaration of Independence and The Constitution also starts with each citizen's desire to serve the common good over self. I have found encouragement understanding these verses from scripture:

1. We don't have to hoard anything:

Luke 12:15 "And He, (Jesus), said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions'"

2. God is in control:

John 16:33 "These things I, (Jesus), have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

3. So we can go free to love from a pure heart and be part of the solution to the dilemmas in the world that cause so much pain:

2 Corinthians 13:11 "Finally, brothers, Good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Colossians 3:14 "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

Drive out fear and go restore a relationship, a community or
something you know should rightly be restored today!