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AUTHOR
Ben White »

Cleaning exterior masonry walls not only improves the overall appearance of your building, but also helps maintain the wall's structural integrity. Embedded dirt keeps in moisture and hosts harmful microorganisms, both of which damage a building's surface over time. However, inappropriate masonry cleaning can also cause irreparable damage to the masonry, so the decision to clean the masonry comes with these considerations: 


1. Mortar | The mortar between masonry units may need to be repointed before any cleaning method is undertaken. Otherwise, water will seep through deteriorated mortar, damaging exterior surface, inner metal support, and wall finishes. Infiltrating water can additionally cause salt deposits on or below a wall's surface upon evaporation, known as subflorescence and efflorescence, respectively.  Water itself can contain minerals which discolor or stain masonry, as can dissolved de-icing salts from adjacent sidewalks. An expert can help you determine if such salt deposits on your building are indicative of a need to repoint.


2. Masonry Type | The term "masonry" encompasses a multitude of building materials (i.e., brick, limestone, granite, cast concrete, glazed terra cotta, etc.), each with their own respective cleaning methods. Knowing the type of masonry is important because certain cleaning agents are incompatible with certain types of masonry. Ideally, multiple methods should be patch-tested to assess compatibility with your building's geological composition.


3. Building condition | Do you know what has changed since your building's construction, or prior treatments? What exactly needs to be removed, and where did it come from? These answers affect the type of cleaning agent is the best fit for your building and preventing future deterioration depends on the nature of the building's damage. Other potential cleaning prerequisites include replacing damaged masonry units, sealing doors and windows, investigating your building's architectural history and assessing environmental conditions.


4. Paint | As a rule, unpainted brick should remain unpainted. Paint is notoriously difficult to remove from bricks to the point where it is generally more practical to leave it on. Reasons for having painted a building range from design choice to protective coating; in some cases, buildings were painted later on to cover repairs and alterations. More information can be found in our one-pager, "Painting Your Building".

 

   


The importance of identifying your building's history, environment, and materials cannot be overstated, along with doing test patches. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that some stains remain impossible to remove, and environmental conditions can impact the effectiveness of many cleaning methods. Resources exist to help you determine appropriate cleaning methods. The Technical Preservation Services (National Park Service) website, local historic commission, independent preservation consultants, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Center are among many that can provide guidance. 

Ultimately, the goal is to clean as gently as possible, and that means different things for different materials. As a rule, abrasion is an inappropriate cleaning method for historic materials because of the irreparable damage it will cause to the surface of the masonry; sources of abrasion include metal bristle brushes, high pressure washing, and sand blasting (as well as blasting with other mediums, such as pecan shells, dry ice, crushed glass, etc). Seek verification from reputable resources before attempting anything more than a simple low-pressure water cleaning to ensure masonry surfaces remain intact and pollutants stay out of the environment.  

 


How To Clean Masonry Buildings 


1. Make sure all openings are watertight prior to cleaning, caulking around windows and doors. If using chemicals, protect the surrounding flora with a water-resistant material and line up appropriate receptacles to collect chemical runoff, also known as cleaning effluent. Also make sure all automobiles are removed well away from the building to avoid etching their paint finishes since these chemicals can be carried by even a light breeze!


2. Spray building with water using a low-pressure nozzle at least 18 inches from the surface. Pressure should be below 600psi – not much more than a garden hose jet spray nozzle. Research the mineral composition of your city's water supply to understand how it will affect your building, as some minerals have been known to stain.


3. Water is one of the gentlest cleaning agents, often paired with a non-ionic detergent and natural or synthetic bristle brush. This method is often the most economical. For particularly acid-sensitive masonry, steam cleaning is an effective, yet expensive option, but constant misting is a more affordable alternative.


4. Alternatively, use water to soften dirt before applying an appropriate chemical solution, using either a low-pressure sprayer, roller, or paintbrush. 
Leave cleaner on masonry for the time recommended by the manufacturer.


5. Start cleaning at the bottom of the wall and work your way up. Periodically check surface for signs of abrasion - pock marks, rough surface texture, rounded edges, or disintegration.


6. Graffiti removal often requires a cleaning agent separate from traditional paint and tar removal methods. The best product will depend on the type of masonry and graffiti, as well as the surface dimensions. The methods range from paste of inert clays to cellulose products mixed with water or other appropriate solvent. If applying paste, cover with plastic sheet to prevent evaporation.


7. Thoroughly rinse off any chemical treatment with water. Residue left behind can cause efflorescence. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for capturing the run-off to prevent polluting local waterways.


8. Make sure that all cleaning effluent is safely and legally disposed of after rinsing. Masonry walls can take several weeks to dry completely, at which point paint can be applied.

 


Safety First 


While we’ve highlighted the hazards cleaning chemicals pose to the environment, they can also be dangerous to your health. Airborne particles can enter surrounding buildings and cars, affecting nearby individuals and can badly burn the skin or eyes. It may be necessary to clean during non-business hours, nights, or weekends. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be provided and worn at all times, especially when removing graffiti; cleaning agents of this level must be disposed of professionally. Always check manufacturer's guidelines before cleaning. 

 


You can download this article as a PDF by clicking this link: Masonry 101: Historic Building & Cleaning Masonry.


This "Masonry 101: Historic Building & Cleaning Masonry" is brought to you by:

 


     

You can download this article as a PDF by clicking this link: Shading Downtown: Awnings and Canopies

 
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AUTHOR
Ben White »

Painting can be one of the most dramatic improvements you make to your building. However, only paint a building that has been previously painted to maintain the historic look of the building. Measures should be taken to remove old paint from brick to restore the original brick, if applicable. In addition, if repointing must be done to prep the façade, before painting, consult with a mason experienced with using the type of mortar for the age of your building. If the building is metal or has metal components, we recommend consulting with a  professional company for cleaning and preparatory work. The following steps will help smooth the way for a successful paint job on your historic building:

 

1. Evaluation. Determine what you need to prepare for painting. Check all the wood. Is it sound or rotting? Does it have insect damage? Repair or replace any damaged areas that you find. If you need to repaint your masonry building, first check the mortar. Make sure the surface is prepped correctly before proceeding, including looking for moisture damage or possible areas where moisture could come in. If the building needs repointing, do that before painting.


2. Timing. Plan a painting schedule. Some times of the year are better than others for painting. Good weather usually ensures a better paint job. Ask your local paint dealer for assistance.


3. Windows. Check the condition of your windows. Glaze and repair windows as necessary. Replace any deteriorated putty with a glazing compound; be sure to put it all around the window. Wait two or three days for the compound to dry before painting.


4. Old Paint. Prepare the surface adequately. Be sure to remove all peeling and loose paint. A variety of tools can be used: a wire brush, a scraper, a blow torch, or an electric heat gun. Use these last two devices carefully; employ only enough heat to soften the paint so that it can be easily removed. Do not blast masonry as this can ruin the old brick; instead, use a chemical application to help remove the old paint.


5. Primer. A primer should be used for all bare wood surfaces as it helps the final coat adhere. Mix a little of the finish coat paint with the primer to achieve a richer color. If working with metal, primers need to be chemically compatible with the type of metal material before painting; be sure to choose a paint that is rust-inhibiting as well.


6. Building Material. Determine the type of paint best suited for your building. Stone, brick, wood, concrete block, and metal all require different paints and primers.


7. Oil vs. Latex. Which kind of paint should you use, oil or latex? That can depend on the material!
We recommend reading more about this from Preservation Brief 11 from the National Park Service. There are advantages and disadvantages to each:


8. Shine. Be aware that there are three degrees of shine for paint: gloss, semi-gloss, and flat/matte.


9. Quality. Remember that quality paint will last longer than a cheap brand. It will not fade or peel as quickly and usually gives better coverage.

 

A Note on Lead Paint

If your building is more than 50 years old, it may contain lead-based paint. If you are removing the existing paint as part of the repainting process, have a sample tested. It is imperative that the testing be done by a reputable company or by a state testing lab. If there is a problem, contact your state environmental department for information on options for removing or encasing the lead-based paint.

 

    


An important reminder: Once you use latex, you must continue to use it. It is difficult to switch back to oil. If you have been using an oil-based paint, it is best to continue with oil.


The color you paint your building, window trim, or door is, to some extent, a personal decision. It is an expression of yourself and your commercial establishment. However, there are other people and things to think about. The following procedures can help you decide what colors to use on your building.

 

 


1. Look Around! Be a good neighbor and look at your building in the context of the entire block or downtown. The color of your building can affect the overall character of Main Street.


2. Investigate. Decide whether you'd like to return your building to its original paint colors. If you are seeking historical accuracy, carefully scrape a small area to reveal different layers of paint. Please note that over time, the original color may have faded. To get a better idea of the true color, wet the original surface. The base color will appear more accurately when moist.


3. Research. Color schemes for commercial buildings differ by region of the country. They also differ according to the period when the building was constructed. Scrape a small area of the building to determine its historic color. Sherwin Williams also has a line of historically-used colors to choose from. Choose a swatch that fits with the era of your building and what it was historically painted.


4. Sunlight. Think about how the sun strikes your building. The amount of sunlight can change the hue of paint color. Hold a paint splotch against your building on cloudy and sunny days. To be certain about your color choice, invest in a quart of paint and apply it. There is a great difference between a small color spot and an entire wall.


5. White Paint. It is important to remember that white paint was not used as widely during the Victorian period as it is today. White is a glaring color that does not blend in readily with most downtown environments. Historic downtown buildings traditionally used dark colors, especially on the window’s trim and architectural features.


6. Trim. Traditionally, building trim was painted as decoration, often in a contrasting shade lighter or darker than the primary building color. This paint treatment defined the trim, but it was not so overpowering that the trim colors dominated the buildings.


7. Aluminum Frames. Today, aluminum frames have frequently replaced traditional wood doors and windows. The shine and metallic color of the aluminum do not complement historic buildings. Paint them a more neutral color or choose darker, anodized frames if the original window has to be replaced or the original window has previously been replaced.


8. Accent. Paint color should be used to tie together all building elements, including the cornice, upper facade, windows, storefront, and doors. Use at most 4 colors to accent the features of your building that bring character.


9. Express Yourself! With these procedures in mind, express the identity of your business through paint color. It adds to the richness and variety of Main Street.

  

 You can download this article as a PDF by clicking this link: Painting 101: Historic Buildings & Paint Color.


This "Painting 101: Historic Buildings & Paint Color" is brought to you by: 

 

    

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AUTHOR
Ben White »

Awnings are fabric structures on a metal frame or roller system that are bolted to the front wall. Canopies are usually flat projections that are suspended over the sidewalk entry usually built with beams extending into the interior of the structure, usually at the ceiling joists, to support the canopy and often with chains or rods tied back to the second-floor wall for additional bracing. Canopies would not be a good choice for new storefront improvements if they didn’t exist already as they can cause a major structural stress load on the front wall of the building.

 

An awning or canopy can be both a decorative and functional addition to your storefront. It serves as an energy saver by regulating the amount of sunlight that enters your window. Shaded by an awning or canopy, shoppers are enticed to stop, look, and step inside. Awnings contribute color and variety to the building design and can soften the transition between the lower and upper portions of the façade. Original awnings or canopies found on buildings should be maintained, be structurally sound, and should not be removed from the building. There are a variety of new awnings and canopies that could be appropriate to use, depending on the building’s time period of construction. 

 

Canopies were generally not used on downtown storefronts until about the 1920s or 1930s. If there is currently a canopy, then one may consider taking it off and using a canvas awning, which might be acceptable if it is not the original treatment on the building. However, owners may also focus on repairing or refinishing an existing canopy. Some canopies historically served as the ledge for signage with lettering resting on top of the edge of the canopy or by placing lettering on the edge/face of the canopy. The following points will help determine the best solution when selecting an awning or canopy for your historic building: 


1. Atmosphere: An awning or canopy creates a pleasant space in front of your building. It provides shade, shelter, and a resting place where pedestrians can pause and get out of the flow of traffic.


2. Temperature Control: Awnings and canopies regulate the amount of sunlight that comes in your windows. Buildings facing north probably don’t need an awning or canopy but for a south facing building, awnings and canopies can be excellent climate control devices.


3. Type: Operable or fixed? An operable, roll-out awning shades your window during the hot, sunny days. It also lets sunlight into your building on cold days, allowing the heat into the interior. Granted, operable awnings are more expensive; however, the reduced energy consumption utilizing one could offset the extra cost.


4. Visual Appeal: As a visual element, an awning or canopy can add character and interest to your storefront. Be sure to look at the neighboring buildings and imagine what impact the addition of an awning or canopy will have on the character of the streetscape. Generally, flat awnings are more appropriate to match the style of the building.


5. Materials: Awnings can be constructed from a variety of materials. The choices are endless with canvas, vinyl, metal, and acrylic. A vinyl awning can be very attractive but be sure to consider the look with the rest of your building. Vinyl is also shiny most of the time and tends to be inappropriate for buildings on Main Street.


6. Fastening: Canopies are usually constructed of metal and wood. They should be securely fastened to the façade typically with steel beams and rods or chains angled back to the wall for added support. Be sure to position these rods or chains so that they blend into the design of the upper façade.

 

Before choosing a color for your awning or canopy, look at the entire building. If your building has minimal architectural details, then a bright colored awning or canopy may be appropriate. However, if your building is more decorative, then a subtler colored awning or canopy would be more appropriate.  

     

• Select an awning or canopy color that enhances the existing building features and colors.

 

• The choice of pattern would depend on the character of the façade.


• Awnings and canopies have long been used to display the names of businesses. Keep the message simple and direct. Signs are best located on the sides and flaps of the awnings to be visible to pedestrians and be sure that they are attached at the fascia of the canopies.


• Make sure the material that you choose is guaranteed weather resistant. Most woods and metals used in canopies should be painted to resist weathering. Sun bleaching is another aspect of weathering that needs to be fully considered.


• Awnings or canopies are not appropriate solutions for every storefront design. However, when they are well-designed and properly placed, awnings or canopies can save money, protect window display merchandise, spruce up the storefront, and create a pleasant sidewalk space for shoppers.


• Ensure proper placement for awnings by placing them at the edge of display window and entry openings. They may not need to extend to the outer edge of the façade.


       

 

*Please refer to Preservation Brief 44 for additional information*

  

You can download this article as a PDF by clicking this link: Shading Downtown: Awnings and Canopies


This "Shading Downtown: Awnings and Canopies" is brought to you by:

 

      



 
 
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AUTHOR
Ben White »

Is the weather finally getting warmer!? With the warmth and change in season, now is the time for building owners to address potential needs that may have come up from the cold temperatures and the natural freeze and thaw cycle of winter. This is also the time to check for plants and weeds that may be growing near the foundation of a building that can cause major damage. Be intentional as these small maintenance measures can prevent future building problems.

 

Check masonry for loose bricks and mortar. (15 min)

Examine windows for broken glass or putty failure. (15 min)

Remove any temporary caulk (from winter), and permanently fix the wood gaps with an epoxy or wood consolidant. (1 hour plus set time)


Inspect any metal or cast iron for components of rust; scrape and paint with rust inhibiting paint. (1 hour)


Examine any painted surface for paint failure. For example the cornice, windows, trim, and storefront. (30 min) Repaint if needed. (2-3 hours)

Remove plants growing on or close to walls or foundations. (30 min)d storefront) (30 min) Repaint if needed. (2-3 hours)

 
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AUTHOR
Ben White »

The Historic Preservation committee of Missouri Main Street Connection continues to provide Missouri Main Street organizations, building owners, and business owners with an innovative consultation service, the “Doctor Is In.” This service offers participants the chance to get expert advice from a diverse group of professionals, volunteering their time to address preservation-related issues. In February, the “Doctor Is In” consultation provided information to Reverend Kary Mann, the Reverend of Trinity Episcopal in Independence, Missouri.

 

 


The Trinity Episcopal church has had its doors open for weekly services since 1881 and was frequented by First Lady Bess Wallace Truman and President Harry S. Truman and was the location where they were married. Reverend Mann consulted with the “Doctors” in February as she needed help locating additional contractors for their building renovation that will address the church’s needs for measures to combat moisture coming into the building, including brick repointing, appropriate guttering, restoration of the interior plaster walls, and painting. The Historic Preservation Committee was able to provide Reverend Mann a list of local contractors as well as contractors from across Missouri that could do all of the work or could specialize on certain aspects of the building renovation. Also, since this is a major project, a diverse mix of grants, local funds, and other funding options will need to be used for this project. The “Doctors” outlined several possible grant and other funding options for these efforts. In addition, Resource Development Coordinator Katelyn Brotherton provided possible grant opportunities for which Reverend Mann could be eligible to apply. The Historic Preservation Committee also talked about other funding opportunities, including how to raise money locally for these revitalization efforts. As a result, Reverend Mann is applying for a grant through the National Trust’s Fund for Sacred Places, a grant centered on helping places of worship. As this work progresses, Missouri Main Street Connection will provide updates on the efforts of Trinity Episcopal Church.

 

 


This service is available to all communities in good standing in the top 3 tiers: Accredited, Associate, and Affiliate. Community Empowerment Grant and St. Louis Main Street communities/districts are also eligible as communities in the Affiliate Tier. To see if your community is represented on this list, click here: Missouri Main Street Connection Tiers Lists (as of March 4th).


The Historic Preservation Committee can consult on a wide range of preservation-related questions. You can find the application for this service here: Doctor Is In HP 2022. All applications can be submitted to Program Outreach Specialist, Ben White, who will reach out for any additional information the committee may need to get a full picture of the applicant’s needs. You may be asked to provide more pictures and documentation, depending on what “Doctors” need in order to have an educated conversation and to have the full picture of your needs. Please be sure to submit all requested supporting documents as outlined in the application form.  The application is simple and serves as the initial communication with Ben. The applicant will then be invited to a Zoom meeting to explain and discuss the problem with the “Doctors” at which time the “Doctors” will provide feedback. Then, Ben will provide any additional feedback and follow-up. Reach out to Ben with any questions. We are looking forward to seeing your submission!

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AUTHOR
Ben White »

The National Register for Historic Places contains many amazing places that have historical and/or architectural significance that can aid communities in pursuing revitalization. Some examples include the Cape Girardeau Commercial Historic District, the Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs, and the Joplin YMCA building. The National Register of Historic Places is a list honoring districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that meet the criteria of significance. The significance falls into several categories, but the predominant ones are location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association to a specific era, person, and event within the past 50 years. You can learn more about these criteria by reading National Register Bulletin 15: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. 

 

The National Register designation of districts and landmarks is a valuable tool in the preservation tool belt. However, there are a lot of misconceptions about what this designation means.  

 

First, the government can’t tell you what to do when renovating your building. This designation does not prohibit work from occurring on the interior or exterior of the building and the government will not be able to claim you violated a law. The designation does provide the guidelines for renovations to follow through the Secretary of Interior’s Standards in order to retain the historic significance of the building that qualifies it for designation and what makes it attractive to heritage travelers. Therefore, in following the established guidelines you are able to have a greater return on investment on your renovation through the economic benefits it provides, especially when it comes to heritage tourism.

 

Second, you don’t have to allow public access to your property. If you are listing your residence, for instance, this does not open your property to give visitors free reign to step on your property for a tour. Property rights laws still apply, providing that security.  However, it means that there is formal recognition of the property’s historical and/or architectural significance.  

 

Many heritage travelers look for these designated historic places in which to visit and spend money, so going through the formal designation process is important to attract these kinds of people. Heritage travelers have been shown to spend 2.5 times more than ordinary travelers when visiting communities. In addition, it opens up the property for potential preservation incentives including state and federal grants and tax credits for rehabilitation. This helps drive down the cost of renovation and redevelopment and strengthens the building’s standing in the community. 

 

To learn more about the process of listing a building or historic district on the National Register of Historic places, visit the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office here: https://mostateparks.com/page/85341/national-register-historic-places  

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AUTHOR
Ben White »

The Missouri Main Street Connection Historic Preservation Committee had its first “Doctor Is In” consultation in September with Julie McBride, owner of Wyoming Street Wine Stop in Pleasant Hill, MO. Wyoming Street Wine Stop serves a variety of food and wines from all around the world making it truly a destination business for Pleasant Hill. Julie, along with her husband Robert, look to provide an experience for the residents of Pleasant Hill and draw in bikers from the nearby Katy Trail.


Julie reached out to Missouri Main Street Connection’s Historic Preservation Committee for help with renovating the façade of her building and the funding options for the renovation. The original vision was to tear out the existing storefront in order to try to recreate the original façade from when the building was first constructed in the early 1900s. During the meeting, the committee recommended adding an attractive awning and paint, as well as suggesting preventative upkeep measures for the building as ways to enhance the existing storefront instead of recreating the original storefront. These recommendations came from reviewing the history of the community, district, and building by the committee in preparation for the meeting. The building that currently houses the Wyoming Street Wine Stop gained its existing storefront as part of a major renovation that happened in the 1950s, which is the same period of significance that was part of the National Register nomination for the Pleasant Hill National Register district.


Even though the storefront is not original, it is still historic at over 70 years old and coincides with the historic significance of the district. Making changes to the existing façade is important versus making drastic changes to the look, in order to be eligible for historic tax credits and to keep the building historically significant. These recommendations considered the historic tax credit program and what qualifies as an eligible expense to provide guidance for Julie in where to start with historic tax credits and who she should talk to if historic tax credits are to be potentially used on the project.


The meeting provided direction for her and her husband as they talk with an architect on the next steps following their meeting. Currently, the upper floor and back of the building are the primary focus, with the enhancement of the façade to be completed after these first projects. The upper floor is planned to be activated and turned into residential use. “Thank you and the team so much for taking the time to help Robert and I navigate historic preservation,” said Julie McBride after the consultation was completed and follow-up material was given.


The Historic Preservation Committee is ready to help you with any preservation-related questions that you or a downtown stakeholder may have. “We welcome any and all applicants from Missouri Main Street Connection’s top three Tiers to submit an application to the Historic Preservation Committee. We’re ready to help and be of service to downtown districts in Missouri,” said John Vietmeier, the chair of the Historic Preservation Committee. This meeting serves as the initial consultation and the connector for future steps needed. Historic preservation-related discussions could include but are not limited to: façade renovation assistance, building materials and maintenance issues, historic tax credits, and funding questions.


If you are interested in talking with the team of professionals about a historic preservation-related question, you can fill out a short form outlining the problem here: https://www.momainstreet.org//Programs.aspx?PID=1099.


All submissions should be turned into Program Outreach Specialist, Ben White, by email at ben@momainstreet.org. Please attach all applicable pictures to the submission. After receipt, Ben will follow up with any additional materials and information needed and work to set a time to join the virtual meeting. Applicants must be in a community from the top three MMSC Tiers: Accredited, Associate, or Affiliate. 

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AUTHOR
Ben White »

The Historic Preservation Committee of Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) is excited to offer "The Doctor Is In” service to Main Street communities from the MMSC Board of Directors and Advisory Board. This service serves as an initial consultation with a group of professionals about preservation-related questions, including: building material maintenance, funding, tax credits, façade renovation inquiries, and more. The committee will serve as the connector for the next steps with your project and put you in contact with professionals in the field that could be of additional assistance.

 

This service is available to all communities in good standing in the top three tiers: Accredited, Associate, and Affiliate. Community Empowerment Grant and St. Louis Main Streets communities/districts are also eligible as communities in the Affiliate Tier. To see if your community is represented on this list, click here.

 

To find and download the application for this service, click here. All applications are due to our Program Outreach Specialist, Ben White, before the end of the month. Ben will reach out for any additional information the committee may need to get a full scope of the applicant’s needs. The applicant will then be invited to a Zoom meeting to explain and discuss the problem with the "Doctors" at which time they will provide feedback. 


Lastly, Ben will provide any additional feedback and follow-up. The application is simple and serves as the initial communication with Ben. As such, you may be asked to provide more pictures and documentation, depending on what the "Doctors" need.


Please be sure to submit all requested supporting documents as outlined in the application form. 

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Building owners can do regular maintenance right now to lengthen the life of their building investment and to prevent larger, more expensive problems in the future. With summer, comes summer storms and vegetation growth. Here are some steps that building owners can take for these summer months:

  • Remove plants growing on or close to walls and foundation. (30 min)

  • Visually check for moss or lichen, especially around parapets, sills, and downspouts. (30 min)

  • Check grading at foundation to make sure water will drain away from building and not pool next to the building. (15 min)

  • Inspect basement or crawl space for excessive water during wet weather. (30 min)

  • Inspect interior of building for leaks during first heavy rain of season. (30 min)

  • Examine roof slope to make sure water is not pooling at any areas on the roof. (15 min)

  • Make sure water can flow freely through gutters and downspouts and clean them out if they are clogged. (30 min)

  • Sweep debris from flat or low sloping roofs. (30 min)
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A small group of Missourians of all ages gathered in Columbia on Wednesday May 5th to learn about historic cemeteries and proper cleaning techniques before heading to William Jewell Cemetery where they got hands on experience. This group learned how to accurately survey a cemetery, its plots, markers, and monuments.

Cemetery markers through the years have come in all shapes and sizes as attendees found out in the presentation by SHPO representative Amanda Burke. The size, shape, materials, decorative carvings, and iconography tell about the persons status prior to death. For example, the depiction of a lamb represents that the person was a child.

Markers and monuments have been made from several materials over the years based on availability of materials and region. Stones used include granite, marble, slate and concrete; metal includes bronze, iron, and zinc.

This list of materials made up of stone and metal to the average person sound tough and durable and would not require specialized care and cleaning, yet that is not the case for the markers and monuments found in historic cemeteries as their materials are delicate and need to be cared for gently. 
One of the tips for cleaning was to use brushes that you can use on your palm and not scratch up your skin, meaning no metal or abrasive materials.




Cleaning efforts like the one that attendees preformed at Jewell Cemetery offer a variety of protection from the threats that rise against historic cemeteries including: humans, ecological, and environment. Humans through neglect endanger markers via increased erosion and chipping from metal wire brushes and tough weed wacker line or through purposeful vandalism where monuments are defaced with spray-paint or broken by tipping them over, but a well kept cemetery staves off this harm. Ecological and environmental are just how they sound. Plants like vines, moss, and lichen endanger monuments through soiling and stains, while environmental factors like water erode and crack markers during the freeze cycle, yet proper and regular care keeps the compounding damage at bay and preserves these places.

Survey and recordation efforts are essential to preserving the history of those who have come before us, with the hope that when we are long gone and buried in a small cemetery that our graves will be tended for and we won’t be forgotten.

More information regarding basic monument cleaning and other preservation efforts can be found through National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, Association of Gravestone Studies, CHICORA Foundation, and Missouri’s State Historic Preservation Office.

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