Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends A Landscape of Remembrance and Reflection | Page 21
sweet auburn | 2020 volume i
STORY CHAPEL MASONRY REPAIRS
By Gus Fraser
Vice President of Preservation & Facilities
ork began in February on the second phase of a twoyear
exterior masonry repair project at Story Chapel.
The project includes rebuilding many of the building’s
stone buttresses, extensive repairs to the chapel’s chancel
wall, and 100 percent repointing of the exterior masonry
joints. Ongoing moisture issues related to deterioration of the
stonework necessitate replacement of a significant amount of
the stone at the buttresses and throughout the building.
The original red sandstone, quarried in Potsdam, New
York, was susceptible to splitting along bedding planes,
opening up gaps in the stone and contributing to failed
masonry joints through which water can penetrate. The
Potsdam Sandstone is no longer quarried, so identifying
a replacement stone has been an ongoing challenge for
maintaining the building. Working with architects at
McGinley Kalsow and Associates, a suitable red sandstone
from Locharbriggs, Scotland, was identified in 2015. When
dry, the replacement stone is a very close match in terms of
color, and it was used successfully in a 2017 pilot project to
reconstruct buttresses at the southeast corner of the building.
The pilot project also provided us with an opportunity to test
different mortar recipes for compatibility, color, texture, and
The first phase of the project, completed in December
2019, consisted of repairs at the west end of Story Chapel.
Work included extensive structural repairs and masonry
reconstruction on the upper third of the tower in addition to
rebuilding most of the buttresses with new sandstone. The
gables to the north and south of the chapel entrance also
underwent significant repairs to damaged stonework. Finally,
the tower roof was replaced and all new copper roof-flashings
were installed to eliminate potential water penetration.
The second phase of work will include cleaning, repointing,
and rebuilding buttresses and selective stone replacement on
the south side of the chapel, as well as major work on the east
end of the building. The chancel wall on the east end requires
reconstruction of deteriorated supporting interior masonry,
some stone replacement on the exterior, and repairs to the
tracery of the stained-glass window. During this second phase,
we will remove the stained glass for conservation and restore
the original interior brickwork in the chancel area.