The Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Ark., was designed in 1921 by architectural firm Thompson and Harding. Built in stages from 1921 to 1926, the 44,000-sq.-ft., Gothic Revival-style church features a red brick and terra cotta façade. Unfortunately, the years haven’t been kind to parts of the facility, especially the bell tower—which never held a bell.
Recently, the historic restoration experts at the Little Rock branch of Western Specialty Contractors were challenged with repairing the church’s bell tower, which was showing signs of instability and age. Western’s experts consulted with WER Architects to determine a plan of action for repairing the bell tower. The tower’s interior brick wall was bulging out of the outside wall and required stabilization.
Western was able to stabilize the tower’s brick wall by installing dry fix helical anchors and Heli Bar stitching rods at locations determined by the architect. Once the tower was stabilized, Western tuckpointed the masonry joints with matching mortar.
Patching and tuckpointing the terra cotta at the roof level of the bell tower was performed using mortar and patching materials that matched the existing facade. The coating for the terra cotta was applied using the stippling method—creating a pattern using small dots simulating varying degrees of shading—to match the surrounding terra cotta appearance. Maintaining the original appearance of the church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was a priority.
A roofing subcontractor removed the existing bell tower roof and installed new wood joists, roof hatch, TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin) roof, and access ladder. The roofing contractor discovered that the roof joist plan would not work with the existing conditions. The architect quickly amended the roof repair plan so that changes could be implemented without disrupting the schedule.
Due to funding from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the project had to be completed within two months. The restoration team was able to complete the project on time and within budget.
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