St. Francis Xavier Church, Cincinnati, OH

St. Francis Xavier Church was founded in 1819 and is Cincinnati’s first Catholic church. The registered historic landmark was erected in 1859 and has been a staple of the city since. In 1880, a fire destroyed the original roof and a new roof was installed between 1881-1882. Presumably, the fire also caused some of the stone deterioration. Two predominant institutions in the city and state are named after the church, St. Xavier High School and Xavier University.

The Durable Restoration Company is restoring the historic church back to its original state. A full rake out and repoint of the east elevation and the bell tower will be performed with historically correct lime mortar. St. Francis Xavier Church had been repointed previously using a Portland cement mortar which is inappropriate for historic structures. It can trap moisture in the stone, advancing its deterioration. The historic lime mortar is a more breathable mortar for the stone and allows moisture to evaporate more easily.

Besides moisture, the stone deterioration has numerous causes: failing mortar joints, poor previous repairs, vegetation, and pollution. The pollution on the exterior of the church has come from a variety of different sources. Because St. Francis Xavier Church sits so close to the Ohio river, the coal being transported on the river over the years has caused build up on the stone. The bell tower also has vegetation growth which is not good for the health of the building. Stuck seeds grow inside the mortar joint, cracking it open. Further, as the vegetation grows the roots grow deeper into the building allowing water to infiltrate. To rectify these problems and restore the stone’s natural beauty, we will perform a 108 stone patch beginning with the bell tower, working our way downward.

Due to age and material build up on the copper, four copper pans will be installed on the bell tower balcony. Lead t-caps be installed as well to protect the skyward facing mortar joints from failing and allowing water to get under or behind the stone.

In addition, new upper box gutters will be installed on the north and south elevations of the church along with new expansion joints and downspouts. The original gutter system was installed with inadequate expansion joints, restricting the copper’s natural thermal movement and the new downspouts will help move water away from the building.

Please note, that some of the pictures featured below were taken before scaffold construction had completed.

Before & During

During (Continued)

St. Joseph Catholic Church, Circleville, OH

The first St. Joseph's Catholic Church was a frame structure. It was constructed off site, moved onto a lot in 1848, and used for nearly 20 years before expanding.  In 1868, ground was purchased for the erection of a new brick built church.  Ground was broken in 1910 for the current St. Joseph’s Catholic Church structure and construction was completed the next year.

On this project, The Durable Restoration and Slate Companies re-set the cross on the church and performed slate roof repair on the church’s Vermont Semi-Weathering Green slate.

Ohio Glass Museum

Historic structures represent an enduring moment in time, a glimpse into the past as well as a celebration of their our present - a shared history as a community and country. Historic preservation gives strength to these structures, assisting them as they pass through generations.

And one such historic gem in need of repair happened to be a humble stucco wall.

Restoring stucco may sound commonplace, even boring, but this particular wall features one of the most prominent figures in American history: son of Lancaster, Ohio, General William Techumseh Sherman.

General Sherman is best known for leading his troops through various southern cities during the American Civil War. He was one of eleven children, born to parents Charles and Mary Sherman, and spent his childhood at their home - now aptly named Sherman Museum, also located in Lancaster.

Local pride for General Sherman shines throughout Lancaster, on street signs, statues, schools, and... a mural on an old stucco wall. And while no single wall - let alone a stucco wall - may seem significant, it is important that we save these souvenirs, not merely to remind us of past adventures and heroes, but to remind us of what opportunities and challenges lay ahead.

To restore this iconic landmark, The Durable Restoration Company completed a stucco restoration. The original metal coping caps on the building - above the stucco walls - were not directing water runoff away and, in some areas, was directing water behind the wall, causing damage. The failed stucco was restored back to sound stucco and damaged clay bricks were removed and replaced with closely-matched salvaged replacements. Completing the repair, new downspouts were installed to direct water past the outer wall.

Westminster Presbyterian, Dayton, OH

Don Holton and DRC crewman have been working with Westminster Presbyterian, their engineer, and their organ company to rectify a major structural problem in the organ pipe loft located above the altar.

To this end, the DRC crew installed over a dozen steel beams and plates, along with over 1,600 engineered fasteners. These structural installations were needed to strengthen the wall that supports the largest pipe organ in the state of Ohio, The Casavant Organ.

In addition, the frescos, plaster columns, and plaster ceilings all sustained damage due to a leak in a roof drainage pipe. The Durable Restoration crew restored the plaster using a traditional three coat plaster repair.

After the plaster repairs had properly cured, our crew painstakingly recreated the original 1925 era frescos. The result is a seamless repair that is as invisible as it is beautiful.

David's United Church of Christ, Canal Winchester, OH

The Durable Restoration Company is undertaking extensive historic restoration of the steeple and bell tower at David’s United Church of Christ in Canal Winchester. The Gothic Revival style church was built in 1881 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Due to the height of the steeple, it was unknown for years that there was interior damage to both the steeple and bell tower. It wasn’t until an inspection was done that it was determined restoration was needed. According to Durable’s restoration expert Brad Brobeck, the metal roof of the historic church began to deteriorate and allow moisture infiltration within the bell tower, causing over saturation of the interior brick. This then caused the mortar of the brick to deteriorate eventually leading to the collapse of an interior brick wall and causing damage to the wooden bell tower floor.

The three month restoration project includes a multitude of repairs to bring back the historic integrity of the bell tower and steeple. The main focus of the steeple is to replace all existing architectural metal work. Restoring the metal with hand soldered copper is historically accurate and will make maintenance easier in the future. The church’s finial was removed and will be replicated by our coppersmiths. Within the bell tower, Durable Restoration is restoring the wooden floor and rebuilding the interior brick wall by reusing the existing clay brick and laying it in hydraulic-lime mortar. The slate roof has proven its durability and does not require replacement at this time, instead minor slate repairs will be performed to allow the steeple roof to last another hundred years. The importance of this project is to preserve this structure for many more generations. The correct way to do this is to restore the structure correctly with old-world craft and long-term natural building material.

The Athenaeum of Ohio

CINCINNATI, OH

Durable Restoration completed the installation of the granite stone for the exterior of Fenwick Hall, a new building located at The Athenaeum of Ohio. The Athenaeum, home of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, broke ground on its expansion in November 2017. Durable Restoration used granite stones to match the same pattern the old world masons used in 1851 to construct the unique exterior walls of the seminary building.

This extensive restoration project was completed December 2019, nearly one year after it began.

Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum

DAYTON, OH

The restoration of this monument was completed from January through May 2019. Matilda Stanley, Gypsy Queen of the U.S., was royally buried at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in 1878. It is exceedingly rare that royalty would be buried here, but here she rests with a newly restored monument.  In October 2015, it became apparent that the monument was not level and beginning to sink. Durable Restoration was brought in to make emergency repairs, which included a new concrete base around the cemetery monument and concrete walkway.

St. John's Episcopal Church, Lancaster, OH

Through careful research and planning, Durable Restoration preserved a portion of St. John’s Episcopal Church for future generations.

Recently, the Lancaster church’s front steps started to buckle an  crack apart due to an ongoing issue that had not been correctly addressed until Durable Restoration was brought in to remedy the problem.

“We do a lot more investigation and research. We don’t just go in and repair,” said Don Holton, a Durable Restoration foreman with more than 26 years of experience. “We figure out the problem rather than covering it up.”

Due primarily to rust jacking, the metal railing on the church had started to corrode, expanding and causing the steps to crack, where the metal meets the stone at the base of the railing, Holton said. Initially, another contractor had repaired the stone steps, but failed to address the rusted metal railing.

The solution required a three pronged approach for the railing. Our craftsmen grinded away all areas of rust and applied a rust-preventative paint to the railing. The next step was the installation of a PVC pipe over the bottom portion of the railing. An epoxy was then applied to provide a water-tight seal between the railing and stone.

Having already removed the broken pieces of stone, our masons installed stainless steel rods to connect the pieces to the base of the stairs. Using a color-matching mortar, the stones were patched together using Cathedral Stone Products, which requires a certification from the parent company.

“The details require a lot of experience,” Holton said. “It takes a pretty good eye to do this kind of detailed work. ”Durable Restoration had previously done stone patching on the Union Terminal at the Cincinnati History Museum and marble patching at Tomochichi Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Savannah, Georgia.

“We’re different than other companies. We want to know what’s causing the problem.” Holton said. “If you just patch it and don’t know what caused it, you’re going to have to come back. If we repair it, it’s going to last a lifetime.”

Don Holton has been with Durable Restoration for three years and spent an additional 23 years working as a residential/commercial contractor. He has significant expertise in general construction, roofing, historic masonry and plaster repair and restoration.

Soldier's Monument, Forest Cemetery, Circleville, OH

Originally built in 1888, this monument features a lone soldier overlooking Forest Cemetery's fallen Civil War soldiers. It was erected to honor John H. Groce, a local Union officer who was killed December 1864.

“During the ensuing 127 years, the monument remained untouched, a testament to the quality of the work,” Jack Mader, master of ceremonies said during the rededication ceremony. “However, the ravages of time and the elements finally brought about the need for a major overhaul.”

The scope of work on Soldier's Monument included repairing the original steel structure at the base, approximately 30 bullet holes, and the separated copper seams. The sandstone base was cleaned, pointed, and repaired as needed.

Featured in the Circleville Herald: Historic Civil War Monument rededicated in Forest Cemetery.

Cincinnati Union Terminal

Built in 1933, Union Terminal was once used as a large passenger station that supported seven railroads. As the building aged, the steel structural support began to rust. The rusting of the beams created pressure within the building, forcing stones out of the exterior façade.

Our restoration work began with removing the brick backing and the stones, revealing the rusted steel inside. Once the steel was repaired, our work consisted of restoring the damaged brick and matching it to that of the original.