February 25, 2019 – Lewis Contractors is once again marrying eighteenth century building techniques with twenty first century innovation. Easily visible from the busy Market Square in Annapolis, the James Brice House can be seen wrapped in scaffolding as Lewis Contractors begins work on the next phase of the building’s restoration. Buildings clad in scaffolding tend to elicit intrigue and the James Brice House scaffolding system is proving to be no exception—passersby have stopped to stare at the scaffold required for work on the main block of the home as it rises impressively to the building’s roofline. As work progresses, the system will extend even further to surround and provide access to the chimneys for restoration.
What is remarkable about this scaffold installation is that, in an effort not to disturb the historic structure, the system is not bolted to the masonry walls. In order to hold the scaffold safely in place, the Lewis Contractors’ team instead bracketed the scaffold to the wooden sills at the windows. The base of the scaffold has also been broadened—or buttressed—in order to allow for the height of the scaffold to be supported without having to fasten it to the building at all.
This fifth phase of restoration will replace the failing roof and repair the historic masonry walls. The existing roof, installed about fifty years ago, consists of historically inaccurate Ludowici ceramic tiles which have begun to fail—allowing rainwater to penetrate and potentially damage the interior of this important structure. The tiles will be removed, the roof framing repaired, and new Atlantic white cedar shingles will be installed to replicate the original roofing materials used in eighteenth century homes.
Only when the existing Ludowici ceramic tile roof has been completely removed can the scaffolding be completed around the perimeter of the roof. And only when the roofing work has been completed, can the chimneys be scaffolded and, for the first time in more than a half century, examined to determine the exact amount of deterioration which has occurred.
As has been typical of previous masonry repairs, the new mortar will be lime-based materials, produced on site by historically accurate slaking of native oyster shells. The same material used in the home’s original construction is being installed today by renowned brick mason Ray Connetti and his crew.
Work on the Brice House is scheduled to be completed in mid-2019.