University Heights, OH

Restoration Master Class

Restoring the Historical John Carroll University

Rodman Hall

John Carroll University is one of several world-renowned higher education institutions nestled within the vicinity of Cleveland. Its buildings are stunning and classic, and the campus has a traditional feel that harkens to Ivy League institutions on the East Coast. Rodman Hall plays host to both administration and facilities activities and is a hub for many activities and organizations on campus. The building features beautiful stone designs, including ornate brackets around the bottom of the space, which make working on this project exciting and fulfilling. It can also have a degree of difficulty which only a master craftsman can achieve. The Cleveland Building Restoration team was called out to handle repairing that ornamental stone as well as repairing all the tuckpointing around the top of the building, replacing the lentils and washing and sealing the stone all around.

A Lesson in Craftsmanship

The Challenge

This is the type of work a stone craftsman loves. The chance to repair the beautiful details on this building requires an expert who can take the time necessary to achieve an exact replication of work done generations ago. To complicate the matter, the team only has a few months to work as traffic on the campus makes it impossible to work while the University is in session. To complete the job, it had to be broken into two sessions and take place in the summer months when the campus wasn’t as active. The stone repair itself was a complicated process but just getting to the building to work on it proved difficult as well. There are delicate sandstone walkways all around the building that would crack and crumble under the weight of heavy equipment. Plus, there were people walking below the tuckpoints and extreme caution had to be exercised when working above. The challenges were many, but the team at Cleveland Building Restoration was ready to pass the test!

Finishing Our Assignments

Our Approach

Just getting started with this project proved to be quite the task. Before work on the building itself could even begin, our team had to lay down planks and build bridges over pavers to ensure that the stone walkways would make it through the project unscathed. Once the team was able to access the building, they encountered another obstacle that sometimes comes with working on old projects: hard mortar. In today’s masonry world, there are many types of mortars that are used for different applications, but at the time when the Rodman Hall was built, there was only one type, and it was incredibly hard. To remove it from the tuckpointing, the team had to use diamond tipped blades to grind it out and replace it with a more modern solution. The team also used color matching on the tuckpointing to ensure that the hues were consistent throughout. This was relatively simple because they didn’t have to match an existing color as all the tuckpointing was replaced. The team then sealed all the stone with Dowsil which is generally considered to be the best product on the market. The product protects the stone from UV rays, and with the VIP warranty program, it’s tested and guaranteed for 20 years. After the sealant was done, a waterproofing repellant was added to further protect the stone.

The stone restoration at the base of the building was exciting but provided quite a challenge. Our master craftsmen had to match the work that had existed for decades with precision and attention to detail. Using Jahn Restoration Mortar, our mechanics duplicated the details and fixed broken and missing pieces. If you look at the building where the work was completed, you would never be able to tell the repaired parts from the existing masonry.

Time for the Final Grades

The Outcome

The work was impeccable on phase one. Due to school being back in session, the work is paused until next year, but the campus couldn’t be happier with what has been done so far. The job was done with care and concern for safety which is always the priority objective for Cleveland Building Restoration. The work itself was of the highest quality and blended seamlessly with the existing stone on the building. Now the building not only looks great, but it is protected from the elements for years to come!

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