Patching Up History

Commercial Projects

The Cathedral Church Of Saint John The Divine

Location: Manhattan
Polshek Partnership Architects

When O&G’s Masonry Division received a call from an architect in New York, they didn’t realize it could be supplying stone and stone splitting services for restoration work at one of America’s historic architectural gems. Some time before, at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, it was becoming obvious that sections of different stone structures around the 13-acre complex stood in need of repair.

The church and its agent, working with Polshek Partnership Architects of New York, developed a restoration plan. That’s when Polshek, whom O&G’s Masonry Division had supplied on a successful stonework project at Sarah Lawrence College in nearby Yonkers, began talks with Bob Rizzo and Jim Gallagher from O&G about the services the cathedral renovation required.

It was a process that spanned nearly two years. Numerous meetings with the owner’s agent, architects and Avalon Bay, the general contractor, followed by tours of O&G’s Masonry Division fabrication facilities by the masons who were subcontracted to perform the work, built confidence in O&G’s Masonry Division ability to supply this important project. Stone sample boards were prepared for Polshek’s architects and when just the correct stone match for the architect was found, O&G committed to delivering it in the quantities and at the times needed.

In total some 400 tons of ashlar cut stone were brought into Manhattan over the course of seven months in dozens of deliveries, the majority of it for a 250-foot-long wall running down 110th Street between the Gothic Synod House and the Diocesan House. Other stone was delivered to the front of the cathedral on Amsterdam Avenue for use on an interior wall measuring some 450 SF. In both cases, delivery was easier said than done.

“You’re working around the cathedral school and all the kids and families, and all the pedestrian traffic on Amsterdam and 110th,” said Jim Gallagher, sales rep for O&G’s Masonry Division, “not to mention the events scheduled at the cathedral itself. Delivering took some doing.” Prepping for deliveries was a day-long activity in itself. “We made sure we responded to the requests for material in a timely way. We coordinated with the masons, the cathedral and its schedule of activities and offloaded the stone right where it needed to be. We always delivered the goods but it did take extra planning.”

While the wall may look like a simple, beautifully executed facing to passers-by, those involved know the deeper story. When the mason subcontractor, JDF Restoration, started digging in for the rebuild they ran into a major wrinkle. Thbulky structural elements behind the wall had weakened over time to the point where they needed to be replaced before work on the wall could begin. Removal of old material and rebuilding the base on a busy street with significant auto and pedestrian traffic turned into a major undertaking.

Vice President Bob Rizzo and Jim Gallagher made an unannounced visit to the site, JDF Restoration’s mason foreman saw their O&G vehicle and trotted over. He was ecstatic, says Gallagher. “He was so happy with the service we gave him and wanted us to know it. He was also proud of the work his crew had done on the wall and wanted us to see it. It did come out beautifully. You look at the wall and it looks like the same individual carried the pattern throughout.”

Joe Francolino, owner of JDF Restoration and Prime Estates, was particularly pleased with the service and products he received from Rizzo and Gallagher and O&G’s Masonry Division.

“These guys were professional. They ran everything on time and delivered exactly as they said they would. We were very happy with the quality of the stone, too. I’d recommend O&G to anyone, anywhere.”



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