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November 2, 2004 7:24 AM CST

Historic Masonry Conference Series Launched


IMI PCC instructor Mike Kassman demonstrates cleaning equipment at the hands-on portion of the Historic Masonry Conference.
Historic restoration and adaptive reuse are some of the most vibrant robust sectors in construction, yet the pool of experts is one of the smallest. To help correct that, the International Masonry Institute (IMI) launched a national conference series on historic masonry this summer.

Co-sponsored by the City of Annapolis and the Maryland Historical Trust, the inaugural session was held in the colonial city, which was founded in 1649.

IMI PCC instructor Mike Kassman discusses traditional mold making techniques.
The three-day program in late August brought together renowned industry experts, including skilled craftworkers from the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) and IMI instructors, to explore both the science and techniques of restoration, with a focus on historic mortars. Attendees included architects, preservationists, engineers, restoration contractors, architectural historians and owners.

Columbia University professor Norman Weiss, a leading expert on traditional material analysis, shared some historic mortar sleuthing tips.
Technical sessions looked at both the science and artistry of historic mortars, and discussed new products and technologies. Craftworker demonstrations in masonry restoration techniques and materials such as brick, plaster and moldmaking, plus hands-on laboratory sessions, rounded out the program.

Preservation industry icon and Columbia University professor Norman Weiss held forth on historic mortar analysis, discussing both the sleuthing and specification pitfalls. Restoration of Michigan's historic Fort Mackinaw, presented by Christman Company President Ron Staley and Dan Schiffer of Schiffer Mason Contractors, covered the logistical as well as technical challenges of working on a remote site. Preservation architect Lorri Sipes, FAIA, discussed condition assessment, from investigation to specifications, and stressed the importance of good relationship between architect and craftworker.

The popular craftworker demonstrations in historic plaster, mold-making and pointing/cleaning/caulking brought home the critical need for proper training. IMI/BAC trains both BAC craftworkers and contractors in restoration, with technical seminars and hands-on training programs, to meet the growing demand.

For more information, visit

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Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at


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