Western Specialty Contractors Uses Special Skills and Care When Restoring Monuments and Memorials

Power washing to remove graffiti when Restoring Monuments and Memorials
Restoring monuments and memorials takes special skills and care to properlyy maintain their integrity.

Monuments can be powerful, and even controversial, reminders of a person, place or event in history. When monuments start to show signs of wear-and-tear and weather damage and need restoration to their original conditions, or new monuments need the expertise of a specialty contractor to construct, customers call Western Specialty Contractors for restoring monuments and memorials.

Over the course of its 100+ year history, Western Specialty Contractors has worked on some of the nation’s most recognized monuments and memorials, such as the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.; The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO; Staten Island September 11th Memorial in New York City, NY; World War II Veterans Memorial Globe in Springfield, Ill.; and also the Lincoln Receiving Vault in Springfield, Ill.

Whether the memorial or monument is stone, concrete or metal, they are all subject to weathering and damage over time. Through proper, routine maintenance, restoring monuments and memorials can return them to their original condition. It can also protect them from future damage.

In the case of graffiti, Western uses high-performance, environmentally friendly technology to safely and effectively remove spray paint and its shadows from concrete, brick and natural stone without damaging their delicate surfaces or changing their appearances.

“Each memorial project is unique and requires a special set of restoration skills and care. Repairing spalling and cracking concrete, installing appropriate waterproofing and treating rusting metal consistently will go a long way toward boosting a monument’s longevity. One aspect that remains consistent is Western’s dedication to respecting and maintaining the historical integrity and significance of the memorial or monument that has been entrusted to our care,” said Ben “Butch” Bishop, Jr., CEO of Western Specialty Contractors. 

Staten Island September 11th Memorial in New York City, NY

In 2004, Western assisted in both the design and installation of granite victim plaques for The Staten Island September 11th Memorial in New York City. The memorial, designed by architect Masayuki Sono. It is titled, “Postcards”. It is constructed of two, 40-foot wing-like fiberglass walls, each with a 30-foot long window displaying the face profile and name of each victim.

Western was responsible for overseeing the selection and production of granite in Victoria, Brazil and Barrie, VT that would make up the 274 granite plaques. The architect and family members designed each victim profile. Then they downloaded it to an electronic file that guided a waterjet machine over the granite to create each victim’s profile and name inscription. Western’s crew took great care in joining these special plaques to the memorial’s fiberglass walls. Over 3,000 family members and friends of the victims, city officials and a cast of devoted workers dedicated the memorial, which was awarded the New York Construction “Best of 2004 Annual Award.”

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO

Western Specialty Contractors completed a project in 2017 to restore and waterproof the roof of the Museum of Westward Expansion located underground beneath the iconic Gateway Arch on the St. Louis Riverfront.

After the exposure of the concrete roof, Western crews identified and then repaired any leaks. Then they installed a 2-ply Laurenco modified bitumen sheet waterproofing covered with WR Meadows PC2 protection board. An electronic leak detection system followed by a permanent leak detection grid system were installed over the protection board.

The next phase of the project involved waterproofing the 42,000 square feet horizontal lid. It also included 37,000 square feet of vertical walls of the museum addition. Additional waterproofing of the north and south museum entrances and each Arch leg was also completed. The museum was largely operational during construction and a lot of the time Western crews were working over occupied space. Western sequenced the removal of existing roofing material so that they could remove, clean and install new roofing material daily to keep the museum dry during construction.

World War II Veterans Memorial Globe in Springfield, IL

In 2015, Western Specialty Contractors was tasked with both repairing and re-coating the World War II Illinois Veterans Memorial Globe in Springfield’s historic Oak Ridge Cemetery. The exterior of the concrete Globe was showing signs of wear, with both cracking and spalling concrete. This was evident near the top of the memorial where contractors had previously applied a protective coating that was flaking off.

Western crews removed damaged areas and then repaired them with a polymer-modified concrete repair mortar. Both the shapes of the continents and the Globe’s longitude and latitude lines were reformed and finished. This was all done under the watchful eye of the artist ensuring it matched the existing profile. Crews wet-abrasive blasted the Globe’s surface to remove any remaining coating and that provided profiling for the new coating.

After the surface had dried, Western applied a Sherwin Williams Loxon Concrete Primer. Then they applied two coats of ConFlex XL Elastomeric Coating in flat white to match the original color.

Restoration of President Abraham Lincoln Receiving Vault in Springfield, IL

In 2015, Western Specialty Contractors restored the historic receiving vault in Springfield, Ill. This vault once held the bodies of assassinated President Abraham Lincoln and his son, Willie. Constructed in the 1860s, the stone and marble vault had major deterioration due to decades of water penetration.

Western crews repaired the vault’s walls using a system of low cement ratio mortar and brick infill in areas. They did this where the brick had deteriorated away from the wall. After infilling the voids in the walls, Western then applied a layer of low cement ratio mortar to the entire wall surface. This created a smooth surface to accept the bentonite sheet waterproofing. Western then used stone fabrication methods to repair two serpentine retaining walls that extended outward away from the vault entrance.

The restoration project was complete on May 1, 2015. This was just in time for commemoration and funeral reenactment ceremonies marking the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s funeral.

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool – Washington, D.C.

The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool was constructed in 1923 following the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial. The pool is over a third of a mile long, 167 feet wide and 30 inches deep in the center. In 2004, Western waterproofed the pool, which had begun to leak. They cut out and re-caulked joints with both urethane grout and silicone sealants.

About Western Specialty Contractors

Family-owned and operated for more than 100 years, Western Specialty Contractors is the nation’s largest specialty contractor. They specialize in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing. Western offers a nationwide network of expertise that building owners, engineers, architects and property managers can count on to develop cost-effective, corrective measures that can add years of useful life to a variety of structures including: industrial, commercial, healthcare, historic, educational and government buildings, parking structures and sports stadiums. Western has its headquarters in St. Louis, MO. There are over 30 branch offices nationwide and employs more than 1,200 salaried and hourly professionals who offer the best, time-tested techniques and innovative technology. For more information about Western Specialty Contractors, visit www.westernspecialtycontractors.com.

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