By: By Zann Nelson, Culpeper Star-Exponent
Published: October 20, 2011
It was more than bricks and mortar; there was something mystical about Saturday’s event at Salubria.
Saturday, Oct. 15, Salubria, built by John Thompson, was the location of the quintessential “community working together” as preservation tradesmen, homeowners, and preservationists gathered at the house constructed in the mid 18th century and recently damaged by a 5.9 earthquake.
Through the Historic Masonry Symposium, the Germanna Foundation and several other historic management organizations including the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, shared their own findings about bricks, mortar and repair techniques with others whose property had suffered structural damage caused by issues of age, earthquakes, and faulty repairs.
Kudos to all the sponsors and hosts; this kind of collaboration and community service turns possibilities into reality.
If the Rev. John Thompson, d. 1772, intended his grand Georgian style brick home — later named Salubria — to serve the local and larger community, beyond the St. Mark’s Parish family that he pastored, he would have considered Saturday’s event a huge success.
Despite the rumors that there are female ghosts at the house, it was Thompson spotted wandering about the grounds throughout the day.
The man attired in 18th century garb was surely a re-enactor portraying the good Rev. Thompson; nonetheless, his presence was a bit eerie.
Intended or not, his facial expressions of concern, confusion and finally, pleasure reflected a pervasive sense of purpose and commitment regarding the mandate to preserve the evidence and stories of those who have gone before.
A long and fascinating day provided participants with an introduction to the dos and don’ts of historic masonry restoration, a quick study in the making of bricks and lime-based mortar, and of critical importance, the links to where additional information and resources can be found.
Early attendees enjoyed a breakfast of donuts and coffee surpassed only by a delicious lunch of homemade chili, corn muffins, and local apples.
The morning portion of the symposium addressed the importance utilizing the correct materials, discussions of different types of bricks and how they were fired, and demonstrations of the making of lime based mortar.
After lunch, four groups of about 20 dispersed to various locations in and around the house to view specific areas of damage and the methods that will be applied to repair. T
he groups rotated through four different areas giving everyone an opportunity to review an assortment of not so uncommon issues.
Those who chose to attend came away wiser and equipped with the assurance that there are solutions and a network of like-minded people.
Did I mention the Bald Eagle that soared over the house about midday much like a pre-arranged commemorative flyover by the United States fighter pilots?
As they say, nothing happens accidently.