New York City has 8,250,000 people and 975,000 buildings.
It also has the only high school program in the country for hands-on masonry preservation, building conservation and green sustainable construction.
This blog offers a glimpse into that program.

The textbook developed from the curriculum and lessons: "Masonry History Integrity An Urban
Conservation Primer" is a free download at this web site:

The recent entries are in the LinkedIn Group: Masonry History Integrity & Urban Conservation.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Patching up

Masonry preservation sessions are already in progress for the new semester. Members of the 2010 class are taught history, masonry and integrity.

History: Of wars, allies, enemies, heroes and outcomes.

French and Indian War: With England against French & Indians; why we speak English
American Revolution: Against England; for freedom; George Washington
War of 1812: Against England again; Andrew Jackson, the battle of New Orleans
Mexican War: Against Mexico; and we went from “sea to shining sea
Civil War: Us against us; freedom and liberty for all
Spanish American War: Against Spain; NYC''s Teddy Roosevelt; we get Puerto Rico
WW I: With England and France against Germany; now we’re in world wide conflicts
WW II: With England,France, Russia against Germany, Japan; we're fighting 2 seperate wars across 2 oceans
Korean War: Fighting Russian/Chinese Communism in northern Asia
Vietnam: Fighting Communism in southern Asia
Iran/Afghanistan: Fighting terrorism overseas for the safety of our homeland

Notice: Countries we once fought against, we later fought with, and for. The practical application? Your worse enemy today could be your best friend tomorrow.

Integrity: Gung ho!
The word “gung-ho” does not mean bravery in battle or courage against all odds. Gung-ho is actually a Chinese phrase meaning “work together.”

Gung ho is a term used to mean "enthusiastic" or "dedicated."The term was picked up by United States Marine Corps Major Evans Carlson from his New Zealand friend, Rewi Alley, one of the founders of the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives. Carlson explained in a 1943 interview: "I was trying to build up the same sort of working spirit I had seen in China where all the soldiers dedicated themselves to one idea and worked together to put that idea over. I told the boys about it again and again. I told them of the motto of the Chinese Cooperatives, Gung Ho. It means Work Together-Work in Harmony...." [1]


· Stonework - Weather and humans deteriorate stone

· Identification of Sedimentary, Metamorphic and Igneous stone.

Masonry and Preservation

· Introduction to Cathedral Stone “Jahn” repair mortar

· Students were shown photographs of buildings in Harlem with close-up “before” and “after” shots of stonework badly damaged, then repaired.

· Explained the necessity of training to earn a Cathedral Stone certificate - and to use the material sparingly, without waste.

· Students were shown steps to prepare their damaged stones including the over-fill of the patch, then scraping down excess to the plane of the original stone.


  • There were moments of silence where students were so focused on their work they didn’t make a sound amongst one another.

· Without enough stone patching tools, students used spoons hammered flat and plastering trowels instead of the metal shaping/scraping instruments.

  • At the end of class, I saw one student taking some patching material from the container and I had a discussion with her after class, away from other students in the presence of two administrators. Our meeting concluded with her understanding that she should have asked permission before taking the material… and my humble understanding that the worth of an anxious and interested student is far greater than that of some stone patching powder.


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