Overcoming outside challenges

August 29, 2002
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

The restoration of the First United Methodist Church in Birmingham, AL, was met with a few unforeseen challenges. Black soot from the early 1900s steel industry had accumulated over 100 years and covered the sandstone facade of the city's oldest Methodist church. In fact, it had looked black for so long, some members of the congregation were opposed to having it cleaned. Masonry Arts, Inc. of Birmingham - contracted by Church conservators - assisted in explaining the restoration process to the congregation.

"I am pretty sure that there were nearly no church members who saw the building in its original condition," said Creig Stanfield of Masonry Arts. "A lot of people were resistant to the change because a black church was all they knew."

Once the congregation agreed to the cleaning, the stains were cleaned with ProSoCo Enviro Klean Restoration Cleaner. A crew of four people cleaned the 31,000-square-foot church in sections 7 to 10 feet wide and 15 feet tall. The cleaner was brushed on and allowed to dwell for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinsed at 700 psi with heated water.

During the restoration process, the weather became a problem in trying to clean the building.

"We started to clean the church during the summer, when the city was in the middle of a drought, and the city had a ban on unnecessary watering," said Stanfield. "The police shut us down for several weeks, which went on into the fall."

Once the ban was lifted, the crew went back to work, but not without another obstacle. This time, the city was hit with very cold temperatures.

"When we were able to get back to work, the cold slowed the chemical process of cleaning the stone," said Stanfield.

When the cold air subsided, they went back to work and were met with no other challenges for the rest of the cleaning process.

"After we cleaned the building, we went back and sealed the veneer with ProSoCo Sure Klean Weather Seal H40 and had no problems," said Stanfield.

After the building was cleaned and sealed, the appearance of the sandstone underneath the soot made it all worthwhile.

"The stone now exhibits its original natural range of colors and is beautiful," said Stanfield. "The church's motto for the project of 'Let All That is Old, Be New Again' sums up the project nicely."


First United Methodist Church, Birmingham, AL

Contractor: Masonry Arts, Inc., Birmingham, AL
Stone Restoration Products: ProSoCo, Lawrence, KS

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Stone World 

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

The Stone Fashion Show at Marmomacc in Verona

As usual, stone suppliers from Italy and around the world relied on the Marmomacc fair to showcase some of the latest stone materials to the international marketplace. The following is a look at just some of the stone materials on display in Verona.

Stone World Magazine

Stone World July 2014 cover

July 2014

Check out the latest issue of Stone World, which includes a review of the 2014 Coverings conference.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Contemporary Stone & Tile Design Magazine

CSTD Summer 2014 cover

2014 Summer

Check out articles about the Windy Creek Casino renovation,the El Alear Condominium complex in San Pedro Garza Garcia, and a Coverings product review.

Table Of Contents Subscribe


Are you aware of the new stone standard – ANSI/NSC 373 Sustainability Assessment for Natural Dimension Stone?
View Results Poll Archive

The Stone World Store

How to Polish & Restore Marble Flooring

This video will show you step-by-step how to resurface and polish marble flooring from grinding and removing lippage and scratches to achieving a highly reflective polish.

More Products

Stone Guide

2014 Stone World Stone Guide

The directory for Stone, Equipment and Supplies - the single information resource readers turn to.

Stone Industry Education

stone industry educationStone Industry Education is sponsored by Stone World Magazine and Marble Institute of America. The SIE events will help you: strengthen your skills, build your business, and  increase profit in your shop.  Check out stoneindustryeducation.com to register for upcoming fabricator and installer seminars.


facebook logo Twitter  YouTubeGoogle+