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Articles > Homestead Brick Restoration: A Work in Progress

3 Apr 2012

Benjamin Long Homestead brick restoration 2012.

Click here for more photos from the mason...

Under the skilled but exacting hands of Brian Daddis and with the continued cooperation of Mother Nature, the masonry work at the Benjamin Long Homestead is ahead of schedule. Interior brick and stone work was completed in early March. With the continued mild weather, the exterior work should be done by the end of March, almost two months ahead of schedule.

This project is a collaborative effort between the City of Tonawanda, and the Historical Society of the Tonawandas. The Society Board would like to thank Mayor Ronald Pilozzi for his support of the restoration project and for his efforts in providing the funding grant which shared the cost of the work with the Society.

Restoration of the interior brickwork was extensive, as the accompanying photos show. Many of the original hand-molded bricks were in such poor and deteriorated condition that they had to be removed. Early 19th century bricks from a building in Lewiston were recovered by Brian. Each replacement brick was hand cut to fill the awaiting void. All the bricks were then protected with a material designed to prevent the powdering which had caused the demise of the originals. Painstaking care was taken to insure that colors matched and shapes were not too perfect so that the original look of the walls was preserved.

For the exterior stone walls, old mortar was carefully chipped away. Where necessary, wall sections were rebuilt and the mortar renewed with a stone-friendly substance. Brian is now engaged in the same painstaking process with the outside walls. The end result will be a foundation which should stand the test of another two hundred years. Brian’s skills as a specialist in masonry restoration will be apparent to everyone who visits the Homestead during the upcoming Summer season...

The foundation restoration work has now been completed but the cleanup is ongoing with a crew headed by Homestead Caretaker, Carole Barnard. As you can imagine despite all due care on the part of the mason, working with old bricks and mortar created a huge amount of debris and dust, some of which made its way upstairs from the basement and all of which has had to be cleaned up before the Homestead can open for the season. A “work party” was held at the Homestead on March 23 and another is scheduled for April 20 to clean and prepare the site for the 2012 tourist season. Volunteers are needed to help with this effort. If you can be of assistance, please contact Carole Barnard (716-695-1879 or 716-913-3452) or the Museum (716-694-7406). This is a huge but very worthwhile effort and any assistance you could offer would be greatly appreciated.The official opening for the 2012 season will take place on Sunday, May 27th. The site will be open each Sunday thereafter until Labor Day weekend. Hours are 1 - 4 PM.

Carole Barnard