Volume 4, Issue 5 (May 2007)
Investigation of Masonry Failure of a Granite and Limestone Clad Historic Church in Eastern Pennsylvania
The use of dimension stone was commonplace in turn of the century churches and St. George’s in Shenandoah, PA, is an example of granite and limestone construction set in the anthracite belt of Eastern Pennsylvania. The structure’s two towers, over 100 feet tall, have recently succumbed to age, the elements, and poor long-term repairs and maintenance that veiled shifting limestone and granite. Early detection did not occur due to the lack of periodic inspection following ASTM’s Standard E 2270 “Standard Practice for Periodic Inspection of Building Facades for Unsafe Conditions,” and the oldest Lithuanian Catholic Church in the United States has temporarily closed. Field observations have revealed a variety of failures. Limestone and the front entrance has outwardly displaced from the mass masonry brick backup nearly 1 in. at several locations. Granite masonry at the top of the towers has outwardly displaced 3/4 in. and has caused adjacent decorative limestone elements to displace up to 2 in. away from the wall. Spalled fragments of limestone of different sizes have fallen to the ground from varying heights at the rate of nearly one piece per month during recent years. A condition assessment examining the masonry deficiencies has been completed and the building now faces substantial repair options that may impact the building’s operational viability.