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Zion Lutheran Church, located on the eastern side of downtown Cleveland, is one of the original landmark designated churches in northeast Ohio. The board of trustees recognized the need to start a restoration program for their historic structures. We were contacted to review the existing condition of the main church steeple and devise a long-term strategy for the renovation of the steeple. Due to the age of the existing building and the historic significance of the church we were required to work with many agencies to assure the historic character of the main steeple was not compromised. Many meetings took place between us and the Landmarks Commission, the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, and the Historic Arm of the National Park Service. The crucial areas of need were identified as follows:
1. Replace the existing roofing.
2. Reline the existing box gutters.
3. Rebuild/replace the existing finials.
4. Rehabilitate the existing stone details.
5. Tuck-point the existing masonry mortar joints.
6. Bolster the structural integrity of the upper steeple.
All of this work had to take place while the church was in operation and without closing down any sidewalks or streets.
The stone details were in decrepit shape, allowing an abundance of moisture to enter into the masonry structure. The stones, all original, were either rebuilt or replaced as needed. Specialty masonry products were formulated specifically for this process.
The steeple was in need of an immense amount of tuck-pointing. Research indicated the original mortar to be lime based, as opposed to a cement based mortar used today. We were required to have a specific type L lime based mortar made for this project.
With the cooperation of the board of trustees, the various agencies, product manufacturers, and the scaffolding erecter, as well as the city of Cleveland building commissioner, allowed us to complete this project in an extremely efficient manner. The original schedule for this project was 180 days; we completed the project 22 days ahead of schedule.