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Western Specialty Contractors Cleans, Restores Limestone Façade of Historic Decatur, IL Courthouse

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Throughout its history, the Macon County Courthouse in Decatur, IL has inhabited a variety of buildings, from a log cabin built in 1829 where Abraham Lincoln practiced law, to a stone and brick four-story building with a clock tower built in 1892 to its current location — a five-story limestone building constructed in 1939. Façade expert Western Specialty Contractors – Springfield, IL branch was recently tasked with restoring the historic courthouse’s 80-year-old façade to like-new condition, which involved extensive cleaning and repair of its damaged limestone.

Partnered with BLDD Architects, Western’s team began the façade restoration process by identifying, removing and re-tuckpointing damaged mortar between the limestone, for a total of 10,000 linear feet or 25% of the building. Crew members then cut out and re-caulked the perimeter of all the building’s windows, doors and coping stones, which totaled 9,200 linear feet.

Cleaning the limestone was a particular challenge for the Western crew, which had to experiment with multiple cleaners to find the one that obtained the desired result for the owner. Copper stains on the limestone that had run down from a large clock mounted on the buildings’ front façade were also removed by Western.

“The top of the wall was the most severely stained, so we had to be careful with the cleaning to blend it with the rest of the limestone so everything looked uniform,” said Western Branch Sales/Project Manager Darren Lemon.

A significant part of the project also included chipping out and repairing 130 square feet of spalled limestone. Since the limestone exhibited a variety of shades, Western’s experts had to blend patching materials on-site to painstakingly match each damaged stone’s unique character. Since the courthouse’s architecture features multiple roof levels and a connecting building, access to repairs was further complicated. Western’s crews floated swing stages over the harder-to-reach upper areas and used man-lifts to access the lower areas.

Western’s crews completed the six-month project by applying a silane-based water repellent to the building’s entire 53,400-square-foot façade.

Family-owned and operated for more than 100 years, Western Specialty Contractors is the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing. For more information about Western Specialty Contractors, visit www.westernspecialtycontractors.com.         

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