Posted on

Renovations of Three Downtown Springfield buildings Reveal Glimpses of Past – News – The State Journal-Register – Springfield, IL

Items from the past are always fun to find when you’re restoring Old Historic Buildings.

It’s nice to see more interest in restoring our past for the future going on all across the US.def04199858b46db922dd91d702986d3_B1NpPM
The work also has turned up small reminders here and there of office work before the age of computers and high-speed Internet. Someone working in the Booth building, for instance, apparently had a fondness for Bubble Up soda. A metal spittoon and a Tuxedo Tobacco tin preceded smoking bans. No modern office was complete without Purity Typewriter Oil. The product said so right on the label.”It will not gum or get rancid.

Heavy brown fabric — similar in touch to burlap — helped keep elevators quiet. Levison & Blythe Manufacturing Co. of St. Louis produced the typewriter cleaning oil. Mail tubes ran between floors for interoffice correspondence. Patches of white mosaic tile can still be found. Removal of a wall revealed skylights that apparently had been obscured for decades.

“We’re just kind of collecting it all,” Lawrence said. “We’ll probably put them on display somewhere in the building, maybe in the lobby. It helps show the history of the buildings.”

Lawrence, who heads Siciliano Inc. of Springfield, estimated that it would take another two years to complete restoration of all three buildings.

The Ferguson and Booth buildings were both built in the early 1900s, according to a history compiled by Lawrence. Both are eight stories high. The three-story Bateman-Kennedy Building in between dates to the 1800s. Early work is concentrating on the westernmost Booth Building, where plans include 21 upper-level apartments and lower-level commercial space.

Lawrence, who declined to estimate the cost of the project, said his goal is to open apartments in the Booth Building in early 2016, followed by completion of the Bateman-Kennedy and Ferguson buildings.

The long-term plan is for a single entrance through the Bateman-Kennedy Building to the upper levels of all three buildings. Three to four apartments also are planned in the Bateman-Kennedy Building. Cafe Brio restaurant will remain on the ground floor of the Ferguson Building, which will be remodeled for office and conference space. Lawrence said he envisions a fitness center and an upper-story restaurant among the possibilities.

via Renovations of three downtown Springfield buildings reveal glimpses of past – News – The State Journal-Register – Springfield, IL


Posted on

Classic Red Stone 1900’s Historic Building Fighting for Restoration!

Kozy Building Passing 11th Hour For Restoration | FOX 21 News, KQDS-DT

Let’s see What Happens here in September 2015? This is occuring all over the US.


DULUTH, Minn. – 28 June 2015

It’s been nearly five years since the troubled Kozy building went up in flames in Duluth. And today, it remains arguably the biggest eyesore in downtown Duluth.

But a businessman behind the restoration plans tells FOX 21’s Dan Hanger he’s got one more solid shot at millions in housing tax credits to turn the property around before the weather takes its final beating on the building or the city of Duluth heads in for demolition.

“There’s a little bit of displacement in the arch and we’re seeing that in a few areas. That wasn’t there last year, so that tells us the clock is running,” said Mike Conlan, former Duluth director of planning and development, and current business partner with Eric Ringsred who owns the building.

“The seriousness is if we’re not successful this year, we’re probably going to throw in the towel and say, ok, we’ve been trying this for three years,” Conlan said.

But Conlan believes his recent application for $7 million in state Housing Tax Credits seems promising this time around after being denied last year.

“The engineering study is done. The architectural work is done. Appraisals have been done. Market studies — all of that. It’s a complete package,” Conlan said.

In the meantime, while Mayor Don Ness wants to see the historic building finally restored, he also says the demolition process by the city is very real and only the fault of the property owner.

“There should have been investment made years ago. First of all, the building should have been insured so when it went up in flames, they would have had the dollars to reinvest and fix the building, but it wasn’t insured,” Ness explained.

While Conlan doesn’t own the building, he remains hopeful the state will pull through with the $7 million in tax credits before the clock strikes midnight.

“It’s all in before the state. And again, they tell us it’s a competitive proposal, they like it, but of course it’s statewide competition,” Conlan said.

“They need to step up in a major way if this building is going to be saved,” Ness said.

via Kozy Building Passing 11th Hour For Restoration | FOX 21 News, KQDS-DT | Welcome to FOX 21 Online


Posted on

Concrete Mortar Mix vs. Brick Mortar Mix

This is working with a flat concrete slab, but imagine what it would be like on a vertical brick structure. Your Mortar Mix had better be perfect, especially if you’re dealing with an old building and don’t know what the mortar mix is to match what’s there. If it’s analyzed you know before you go.


Here’s a cool tip or two on dealing with cracked cement slab.


I’ve been busy fixin’ stuff!

There was this crack in the concrete walkway at Mom and Pop’s house that was driving me nuts, so I repaired it and thought I’d share all the super simple fix-it details with you. 


The crack had been there forever, but it only started driving me crazy recently. You see, it wasn’t all that noticeable until I finished installing the new stamped concrete tile driveway… 


 At which point the crack, in the walk way on the left, stuck out like a sore thumb. It was very rudely screaming at me: FIX ME!

And since I don’t like being yelled at, I did.

Here’s a close-up of the bugger… 


You can see how the cracked corner sits lower than the rest of the concrete slab. So my plan was to dig up the cracked end and place a layer of sand underneath it so that it sat level with the rest of the slab. But the darn thing wasn’t having any part of that. As I dug out the soil on the end, I found that the piece was not only six inches thick, but it was still completely attached to the post on the right.

So I put my thinking cap on and came up with plan B: fill the crack with mortar mix and then use the mix to level out the top. And, I’m happy to say that it turned out perfect.

I used my chisel to create a small under-cut below the lip of each side of the crack.


Basically, your crack should look more like the image on the left above. The difference is that in the years down the road, the undercut will help prevent slippage of the repair.

Next, make sure your surface is thoroughly clean of any oils, dust, or debris.”

via HOW TO FIX A CRACK IN CONCRETE with Rapid Set® Mortar Mix – Do-It-Yourself Fun Ideas


Posted on

Mortar Mix and Historic Mortar Demystified

This is a perfect example of heading off a distastrous and expensive restoration project by making sure you have done a correct mortar analysis with the existing mortar so you can match it.

Various Sands for Comparision / Matching Historic Mortar

The traditional volume mix design of 1 part lime putty to 3 parts sand may be insidious to follow straight up without more details. First, mix designs historically used quicklime as the 1 part of lime mixed to the 3 parts of sand by volume. Quicklime when it is slaked with water will increase volumetrically 70-100 percent – or basically double its size. This fact would reduce the sand content closer to that of a 1 part lime to 1.5 parts sand – a much sticker richer mix design.

Secondly, sand must be measured in a damp loose condition according to ASTM C270 when mixing mortar. Dried sand will bulk up to 30 percent and grow volumetrically by the addition of a small amount of water. This can send your mortar mix designs at the construction site off the specified requirements.

via: Measuring and Mixing Historic Mortar