Story Chapel Exterior Masonry Repairs

February 20, 2019

Work will begin in March on a two-year exterior masonry repair project at Story Chapel.  The project will include rebuilding many of the building’s stone buttresses, extensive repairs to the stonework on the upper portion of the chapel’s tower, and 100% 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, has been 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 of stone has been a challenge for maintaining the building.  Working with architects at McGinley Kalsow and Associates, a suitable red sandstone from Locharbriggs, England was identified in 2015, and has been used on two smaller repair projects in order confirm that it will be a good substitute.  When dry the replacement stone is a very close match in terms of color and it was used successfully in a pilot project last year reconstructing 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 workability. 

Work scheduled for 2019 includes repairs on the west and south sides of Story Chapel. Construction will begin in March with dismantling of buttresses on the old family room wing to the north of the entrance to Story.  By the end of April scaffolding will envelope the entire tower of the chapel and much of the south side of the building. Quarried and fabricated stone is scheduled to arrive by the end of April or early May to begin reconstruction of buttresses and replacement of damaged stone.  Work on this first phase will continue through November and we hope to have the scaffolding removed in December.  Throughout this first phase of work, Fountain Avenue will be closed between Central and Ash Avenues and used as a staging area for the contractor. Work scheduled for 2020 will include repairs on the east end of the chapel, the connector between the chapel and the Administration Building, and the east side of the Administration Building.

We plan to keep the Visitors Center at Story Chapel open through construction, and we will coordinate the work to maintain safe access to the building for visitors and staff. There will be periods during construction when the use of heavy equipment or lifts near the entrance to the building may require that pedestrian access to the chapel is restricted or the chapel is temporarily closed. Scheduling of memorial services, public programs or other events at the chapel will be very limited during construction.    

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