Since the last post of March, work has finally begun on the project! Here is what has been going on.
What has been done:
- A contract has been signed with Giampolini and Co. Construction (based out of Emeryville CA) to work under the guidance of John Fiddler Preservation Technology Inc. for the duration of this project.
- The UK based company Darwen Terracotta has been selected to manufacture the terra cotta that needs to be replaced. This decision was made, in part, due to their ability to more accurately match the color and qualities of our current terra cotta.
- Scaffolding has been constructed on the interior and exterior of the east façade. The interior has been covered to improve the aesthetics and sound proofing. Care has been taken to cover the wooden pews, walls, floors and stairwell to prevent damage from the construction process.
- Scaffolding has allowed the close-up inspection of the building elements and surfaces. Details found include salt damage to the bricks, decay of the wood window casings and sills, some unanchored bricks, and possible asbestos in the sealant used for the Rose Window.
- Examination of an exploratory opening at the top of the Rose Window allowed an understanding of how the brick wall, terra cotta and wood fascia were made. Happily, concentric brick arch rings were found that provide structural stability for the entire wall. It was also possible to see how the terra cotta was secured into the wall. More terra cotta might be able to be salvaged than previously thought.
What is happening now:
- The damaged terra cotta is being removed and a representative from Darwen Terracotta is taking details of the shapes, profiles, and colors to be matched. Interestingly enough, the terra cotta we have was found to be hollow.
- Temporary anchors are being constructed to hold the brick rings in place while work is done on the tracery.
- Metric surveyors are being priced to help with the determination of the window’s actual shape, taking into account any deformation that has occurred over the years.
- The church’s Development Committee continues to submit grant requests to aid in the project’s funding.
What potential challenges exist:
- As the cracked terracotta windowsills are being replaced, examination of the wood window casings of the tower windows must be considered. Their integrity has not yet been determined.
So as with most house projects, there is always the potential for the unexpected. But the best news is the extreme care and attention to detail that John Fiddler and Giampolini and Co. have provided to our wonderful building. It truly has been stellar.
Thank you for your patience through this process!