Repair Campaign at the Rotunda, University of Virginia Restores with Lime

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We’re so proud to be part of an incredible restoration campaign currently taking place at the University of Virginia. The Rotunda is the focal point of Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village at UVA and we have the pleasure of supplying our Ecologic™ Mortar for the repointing campaign. Below is an excerpt from the university’s website explaining the repairs that are currently taking place, also take a minute watch the brief video.

Preserving the Heart of the Grounds

The capitals atop the Rotunda’s columns were shrouded in protective netting after it was discovered that they were crumbling from age and a variety of other issues.

Thomas Jefferson intended the Rotunda, which he called a “temple of knowledge,” to be the centerpiece of the Academical Village; it housed the heart of the University operations—the library and classrooms. The Rotunda and associated grounds are now in critical need of extensive repairs. The renovation, which began in May 2012, will span several years.

What specific repairs and renovations are being done?

The Rotunda renovation includes extensive infrastructure upgrades and exterior repairs. The initial phases are addressing conditions that threaten the building’s integrity and include significant roof repairs, column capital restoration, masonry repairs, and window restoration. Panels in the Dome Room will be replaced with a better acoustical control system; lightning protection will be greatly improved; and a new elevator installed.

Later phases of the project will entail improvements to the Rotunda’s interior infrastructure and restoration of the surrounding landscape. The building’s aging infrastructure, including plumbing, electrical, audio/visual, heating/air conditioning, and fire protection, will be upgraded. Portions of the building may be adapted to allow for classroom use. The current total estimated cost is $50.6 million.

Photo by Tim Jarrett

Read more about the restoration efforts here.

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Phone: 215-536-6706

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Preserving America’s Historic Barns – A Conversation With Historian Jeff Marshall

Screenshot 2015-08-04 09.58.49 (2)Watch our Limelight on America’s historic barns. Historian Jeff Marshall discusses his appreciation and understanding of barns, barn builders and their lasting legacy.

BARN AGAIN!!  Preserving and Repurposing the Past

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Limelight on Historic Brownstone Restoration – Alfred’s Victorian

Alfred’s Victorian Restoration Story –  with Andy deGruchy

Alfred's Victorian Staff
Alfred’s Victorian Staff

 

This beautiful late 19th century Hummelstown brownstone was recently restored by deGruchy Masonry Restoration, the Technical Install/Training Team of LimeWorks.us. Using historically appropriate, breathable Natural Hydraulic Lime based materials for repointing the brickwork and repairing the brownstone, this iconic building is now put into an excellent state of conservation. It remains a testament to excellent stewardship of our built heritage thanks to the owner, and lifelong resident of Middletown, PA, Robin Pellegrini.

Taking an architectural conservator’s approach, the team of masons repaired the broken and missing pieces of historic sandstone and lime mortar with environmentally friendly Ecologic® Mortar and Lithomex Brick and Stone repair material. The team retained as much of the historic fabric as possible by repairing what could be salvaged with these specialty materials. These materials allow the building envelope to process water out naturally through the lime and sandstone because of their effective liquid/vapor transfer properties over any patch material based on Portland cement.

Please take a look at our other videos for the full extent of this remarkable restoration:

True Sustainable Development in Historic Restoration  – Alfred’s Victorian –  Randy Ruth

Restoring Historic Alfred’s Victorian Brownstone  –  Randy Ruth

Natural Hydraulic Lime Mortars for Historic Preservation and Their Impact on the Environment –  Randy Ruth

 

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How do Natural Hydraulic Lime Mortars Compare to Common Type-O Mortars Containing Portland Cement? by Randy Ruth

by Randy Ruth

For well over 30 years it has been common practice to prescribe the use of a Type-O masonry mortar for use on the conservation of masonry buildings. The most common formula of a Type-O mortar is 1:2:9, a blend of 1 part white Portland cement, 2 parts Type-S hydrated lime (most often dolomitic lime) and 9 parts sand by volume. In recent years there has been an increasing amount of research on similar mix designs and how they compare to Natural Hydraulic Lime (NHL) based mortars used in Europe to repoint historic masonry buildings. Just recently, a professor and two graduates of Columbia University published a research study on the same topic here in the United States. The results of this study can be found in the Association for Preservation Trades International bulletin Vol. XLIII. Their innovative approach to allow a real comparison between different mortar types used in conservation reveals some interesting results.
Petrographic thin section images courtesy of William Revie of The Construction Materials Consulting Group; Striling, Scotland

Petrographic thin section images courtesy of William Revie of The Construction Materials Consulting Group; Striling, Scotland

The innovative approach the research team had developed with their curing protocol of various binder types, established a relatively level field of comparison for various mortars in regards to the way each mortar uniquely cures. With this testing detail established, the 11 commonly used repointing mortars were tested at various stages on their splitting tensile strength, compressive strength, water absorption and water-vapor transmission.

The tests reveal that for a splitting tensile strength the NHL/sand mortars are most comparable to traditional pure lime/sand mortars made of High calcium lime and dolomitic lime, while Type-O mortars were more than twice the splitting strength of NHL mortars. Although anecdotal, the cases where historic pure lime mortar has been used to repoint soft brickwork and has eroded causing a need for repointing, Type-O mortars could be consequently be too rigid for use a repointing mortar.

Compressive strength data shows that although NHL mortars have higher values than that of high-calcium lime mortars (with the exception of NHL 2 being less in strength than dolomitic lime) when compared to Type-O mortars their values are nearly half.

When mortars were measured for their water absorption, initially all NHL mortars significantly out-performed other mix designs. The most comparable mix was that of the Type-O mortars that ended up with similar characteristics to NHL mortars and still outperformed both pure lime mortars.

Water-vapor transmission results indicate that all NHL mortars process water vapor at much higher rates than dolomitic and both Type-O mortars, with values comparable to High-calcium lime mortars.

Although the results from the laboratory study are not entirely representative of values that are obtained in field work, they do represent what specifiers and conservation masons are attempting to achieve in real world situations. By eliminating variables, that can give anecdotal results and margins of error, the data suggests that NHL\’s are indeed appropriate when specifying a historic repointing mortar or a new construction mortar used for masonry mortar, plaster or stucco applications.

In conjunction with this study and the new ASTM C1713Standard Specification for Mortars for the Repair of Historic Masonry, Natural Hydraulic Lime clearly proves its self as an alternative to mortar mix designs that have been used widely in the United States for many decades and have shown, for one reason or another premature failure.

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Yes, We Can Save The Frank Furness 19th Street Baptist Church

by Sean Maxwell 2012

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This beautiful church was designed by Frank Furness and is located at the corner of 19th and Titan in South Philadelphia.  It almost went the way of many Furness structures; due to neglect and time the church leadership is under pressure to begin repairs or plan for it to be demolished due to unsafe conditions sited by the License and Inspections Department of the city. Under the leadership of Reverend Vincent J. Smith and in partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Preservation Alliance and some volunteers, stabilization efforts have finally begun.

As the morning sun crept over the skyline on the last Saturday of April, Randy Ruth, mason and the laboratory technician from  LimeWorks.us volunteered to lead a workshop with a team of a few other volunteers to complete some small but crucial repairs on the north facing wall of the 19th Street Baptist Church.

The church has been in need of serious repairs for a number of years as observed and documented in a 2000 University of Pennsylvania report, Thesis by Molly Anne Sheehan, which show that the conditions of the church and the exterior Serpentine Stonework have continued to deteriorate steadily.

Under Randy’s supervision the team of volunteers used a lime mortar donated by LimeWorks.us for doing some in-kind repairs to stabilize the failing back-up walls behind the Serpentine stone. This lime and sand mortar reflects what would have been used originally when the church was constructed in the late 1800s. Ecologic® Mortar contains NO harmful Portland Cement and allows the building to breathe and process water as it did originally.  At some point in time, a hard and brittle Portland Cement stucco was placed over a significant part of the building, trapping moisture and leading to further deterioration of the soft, sedimentary serpentine stone and contributing to mold issues that the church basement still has to deal with today.

This was the first step in saving the most colorful building ever designed by Furness… A true master plan is needed for the next step in partnership with strong fundraising efforts to truly bring this sacred place back to its original glory.

Other stories about the 19th Street Baptist Church…

HiddenCityPhila.org

Plan Philly

Gallery photos  ©SeanKmaxweLL.com

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Understanding Mineral Paints and Stains for Masonry Applications

Ecologic™ Silicate mineral paints are mineral paints made using potassium silicate, also known as waterglass. They are combined with inorganic, alkaline-resistant pigments and these paints have zero VOC offgassing.

Silicate Mineral paints were patented in Germany during the late 19th century. Examples can now be found around the world in masonry conservation and alterations as well as new construction. This long track record has proven these paints and stains are durable, long lasting and low maintenance applications for all types of masonry.

Mineral paints and stains chemically bond to all forms of masonry substrates such as brick, stone, mortar, stucco and cement. Unlike latex paints, they are non film-forming, creating a permanent bond that works in harmony with the masonry. Ecologic™ Potassium Silicate Paint is a thick bodied paint.

Ecologic™ Colorwash Stain however is a translucent potassium silicate stain that allows the masonry texture to come through the finish. Both can be brushed, rolled or sprayed on. For artistic expressions or when feathering colors with Ecologic™ Colorwash Stain a sponge may be appropriate for a unique finish.  For long lasting, breathable applications Ecologic™ Potassium Silicate Paint is an exceptional choice, while Ecologic™ Colorwash Stain may be more appropriate for changing previous masonry repairs where there are mismatched colors.

Both are available in 10 standard colors and can be custom ordered.

For more information about mineral paints and stains as featured in This Old House Magazine, or to learn about our line of  lime paints please visit our website or call 215.536.6706.

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“Soft Reds and Hard Tans” Exploring Historic Masonry Architecture in the French Quarter

by Randy Ruth

New Orleans. It’s quite the town especially during the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, known as Carnival. Technically beginning on January 6th and concluding on the day before Ash Wednesday (aka Fat Tuesday), the long celebration is concentrated on the final few weeks, giving rise to more frequent parades and events.  Granted I had never been there before but what I expected was much different from my experience. As a Philadelphia native, I had assumed that it’s nothing but one insane party similar to events that might occur during the Mummers parade on New Year’s Day in Philly, and be only on Fat Tuesday. What I had experienced was by far richer in both culture and architectural significance. I don’t mean this to down play the heritage of historically significant Philadelphia. It’s just that New Orleans has a charm that I believe to be facilitated by it organic architectural style, originating in function over form.

Spending most of my time in the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans also known as the French Quarter or as some may traditionally refer to it as Vieux Carré, I felt a certain type of warmth from the people and its buildings. The symbiotic relationship felt I found to be rooted in the architecture bound mostly by French, Spanish and African influence. This dynamic create a true Creole culture. Perhaps this is why nobody can exactly pinpoint the exact year that Carnival festivities began, a very real unique place and people whose origins can be traced to their roots but only studied in regard to its complex organic creation. The trend can be translated to local architecture in the French quarter however it is a bit easier to study.

A New Orleans local showed me around the French Quarter explaining all the influences of Spanish, French, African and local climate on many of the buildings architecture. Probably the most iconic would be the balconies and galleries extending over the sidewalks. Just to be clear balconies are cantilevered into the building with no supporting posts extending halfway over the sidewalk, while galleries typically extend to the edge of the street. Unbeknownst to me I found that the reason for this is threefold.

First, has to deal with the influence of the Spanish and French architects designing buildings since New Orleans beginnings. However, more often than not these buildings needed to be protected from the weather. Wind driven rain during hot summers created the need to have large open windows to permit air flow but something needs to prevent the buildings from getting wet on the inside, hence the need for balconies to act as an eve to prevent rain from entering the interior. The same principle also protects the inferior masonry walls. New Orleans suffers from poor clay local clay for making bricks. The result being bricks called “soft reds & hard tans” that in most cases must be protected with a stucco or render of lime.

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What is currently known as the Napoleon house was first occupied by the mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. Although Napoleon never came he was offered this residence during his exile in 1822.

 

 

 

 

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Detailing of deteriorated “Soft red” brick rendered with lime stucco as a Trompe L’oei to imitate limestone blocks on the Napoleon House.

 

 

 

Another defining characteristic of architecture in the French Quarter is the entresol, also known as mezzanine. Entresol’s were needed for storage in commercial buildings due to the high local water table.  Looking at the exterior of a building one can clearly notice the well defined tall window front that help hide the storage floor between the 1st and 2nd floors.

 

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This store front exemplifies the use of an entresol commonly found in the French Quarter.

 

 

 

Due to New Orleans high water table, rising damp is a big issue for many of the building. Because the majority of the historic Buildings located in the Vieux Carré district were built before the advent of Portland cement, lime was used and accommodated moisture very well.  However, today pure lime technology is used to restore the local historic properties, which results in fewer lost or damaged cultural resources.

The time I spent in New Orleans was certainly too limited. There was far too much to see in the few days I was there. Its impact left me forever moved by its places and people. For anyone who has not been there. GO! The treasure hidden in the city is everywhere, waiting for people to experience it and take a piece of it home. Perhaps the next time I visit I will see you there.

 

 

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Case Study on Masonry Repair and Patching Material – Lithomex

Damaged stone and brick is a common problem for many historic structures around the world. Lithomex is a breathable in-kind repair material for most types of damaged stone and brick. The following is an example of a Lithomex repair on a historic 19th century stone house…

Lithomex Repair in Merion Station, PA:

This house, located in Merion Station Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, was constructed in the 1920s during the Arts and Crafts style movement. This movement was a direct descendant of the British Arts and Crafts movement which was initiated by William Morris during the mid 1800s as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and its lack of concern for human lives in the work place. This movement was meant to bring back pride to the true craftsmen once again with an emphasis on hand-made vs. mass production.

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Before applying Lithomex

This house was handcrafted using a variety of stone including Mica Schist, Serpentine, Red Sandstone, Brownstone, PA Bluestone, and some Limestone. It was originally pointed with a high Portland cement content mortar, either 5:1:2 or 1:3 formula of Cement, Lime and sand. Unfortunately this was a recipe for disaster.

During the following 80 years, the softer sandstones received the greatest damage due to the freeze/ thaw cycles of the cold Pennsylvania winters. This combined with later modifications including new windows which were installed improperly allowed water to be trapped behind and within the stone walls. Leaks developed within the house and the homeowners decided it was time to fix things the right way.

BEFORE PHOTOS

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Lithomex being applied

A team from Galli Masonry Restorations took on the challenge to bring this historic home back to its original glory. First they removed all the old pointing and filled in the voids with LimeWorks.us Natural Hydraulic Lime mortar. Then blended with Lithomex colors and textures to replicate the original look of the stone. The damaged serpentine, brownstone and bluestone was repaired and blended in to be virtually unnoticeable.  The color and composition of the final pointing work was chosen by the homeowner which was a mix of Ecologic® Mortar DGM non-pigmented, DGM Grey and black Slag-fleck.

 

 

 

Back Camera
Back Camera


 

Damaged stone

 

 

 

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Damaged wall at window

 

 

 

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Measuring damaged serpentine stone

 

 

 

 

 

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Lithomex on chimney

 

 

 

 

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Crafting Lithomex

 

 

 

 

AFTER PHOTOS

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Side of house after Lithomex application image 1

 

 

 

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After Lithomex application image 2

 

 

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After Lithomex application image 3

 

 

 

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After Lithomex application image 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After Lithomex application image 5

 

 

 

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After Lithomex application image 6

 

 

 

 

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After Lithomex application image 7

 

 

 

All Photos Copyright George Galli, Galli Masonry Restoration

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The Bill of Rights for Masonry Structures by Larry D. Jones

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Article 1
Respect all that is left of me, sacred as it is, my historic fabric.

 

 

 

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Article 2
Clean me not, unless it serves to halt my further deterioration.

 

 

 

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Article 3
But, if you must, clean me first, just water please, and the gentlest means possible.

 

 

 

 

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Article 4
If am clean, but still look old, leave me be, graceful aging, it is called.

 

 

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Article 5
Whatever you do, please don’t boil me in acid or scour me with sand.

 

 

 

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Article 6
Know that a good state of repair is in itself, good preservation.

 

 

 

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Article 7
Know what is wrong with me, before you plan how to fix me.

 

 

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Article 8
Repair me only where I need it, and with materials just like me.

 

 

 

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Article 9
If I am leaking water, find out where and fix just that.

 

 

 

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Article 10
Please, no cure-all surface treatments to cover me up or clog my pores.

 

 

 

Photo Credits:

1 Bryan Papciak
2 Sean K Maxwell
3 Kate Milford
4 Steven A. Cholewiak
5 Rasekh Fatmi
6 Trey Ratcliff
7 Trey Ratcliff
8 Trey Ratcliff
9 Frank DiBona
10 Trey Ratcliff

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Repairing Broken and Damaged Stone and Brick using Lithomex – FAQ by Randy Ruth

by Randy Ruth

Randy-doing-Lithomex

Of course following the Lithomex technical data sheet is important to ensure a quality application, but what about the little things that can’t fit on one sheet of paper?  The small details that help make good finish “POP” into a quality indistinguishable patch. There are many things that are far to subtitle to translate onto paper from experience and feel of mortar and trowel. So practice, timing and tools are critical overview subjects to be discussed here.

Practicing patching old single salmon bricks not in a wall is a cheap and technically challenging exercise. The porosity of salmon bricks demonstrates the importance of controlling suction. If suction is not controlled, bond failure can occur while detailing outside corners. It’s these corners that give rise to the technical challenge. By coating multiple sides of a brick, it helps create focus on multiple surface planes. The initial reshaping step doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to have about 1/8 inch extra material beyond the desired finish. Once Lithomex is well bonded to three sides of a brick, wait for the material to stiffen to thumbprint hard.

DSC_0126Re-troweling the surface will compact the patch to compensate for any slight shrinkage. While using trowels, squares, straight edges, miter rods and improvised tools to shave back and cut away undesired material to the finished profile will create the rough finish. When finishing a masonry unit in a wall, long metal straight edges are great to use as a profiling tool. With the edges exposed over to adjacent units or edges, they act as a guide to bring the finish to proper plane. Typically much of this profiling can be done in the first day of patching; however 12-24 hours later more intricate detailing and carving can be done. Tooth chisels can be used during this time frame to scratch in tooth marks or crandled finishes.

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As more time is allowed to let the patch “firm up” stone masons chisels can be used in a traditional method to give more authentic characteristics. Sanders and rubbing block are also useful for honing the surface to a more polished or pristine finish.

Following these tips and practicing will build upon previous experiences for the craftsman or aspiring novice, facilitating a better rounded approach to brick, stone and terracotta patching.

Other Examples in Use:

 



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