By: Steven Butler
Published: Sunday, October 16, 2011, page 1, top story
The Germanna Foundation in conjunction with several sponsors hosted a historic masonry restoration symposium Saturday at Salubria Manor.
The symposium focused on the most suitable restoration techniques to repair damage to the historic masonry of Salubria, which was built in the mid 1700s and is located in Stevensburg.
Event facilitator and historical architect, Doug Harnsberger, said as a result of the August earthquake that shook the area, damage to the Georgian style home included: ruptured and pivoted chimneys, 5 stress cracks in the walls and problems with modern industrial cement mistakenly used for repairs in the 1950s.
“We’re aware of the damage Salubria incurred, but we don’t know about our neighbors,” said Harnsberger.
Experts taught around 80 attendees skills to use on their own historical masonry projects such as how to match bricks and mortars, insert and replace bricks and address stress cracks.
“The lessons of care that these guys will bring to construction problems will be valuable to anyone,” said Harnsberger. “The right materials are essential to doing restoration of these buildings correctly.”
Two of the presenters, Jimmy and Jeffrey Price, of Virginia Lime Works, gave an introduction and demonstrated proper use of lime mortars, which are softer and breathe easier than modern counterparts.
“Lime putty is the glue that holds historic masonry together,” said Jeffrey. His father, Jimmy, said, “If you’re going to be pure, you have to go all the way, not half the way.”
Harnsberger said he is against the use of Portland cement in any restoration work. He said the modern cement is much harder and not appropriate for historic masonry.
“If you introduce elements beyond sand, lime and clay, you’re changing the way the building naturally performs.” He compared historic masonry to “artfully restoring” paintings. “That’s the same approach we bring to historic buildings.”
Robert Ellis, of Clifton, reinforced some of the techniques he had already used correctly on his historic home. “Just like Jimmy [Price] was saying, over 30 years, if you don’t do it, you’re going to end up with damage that wasn’t there,” he said.
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources co-sponsored the event and director, Kathleen Kilpatrick, said, “This is the type of information that property owners and practitioners need. You gotta step back and realize that quick, simple solutions can cause you damage down the road.”
For Phillip Ferguson, of Culpeper, he was happy to hear directly from the experts. “These gentleman know the correct path. There’s a lot of information out there, but to decipher it on your own is a little overwhelming,” he said. “They seem to use a lot of common sense and that’s what they used 100 years ago.”
Karen Quanbeck, executive director of the Germanna Foundation, said she hopes attendees “learn how to be better stewards of the historical property that they manage or own.”