Learning skills to preserve U.P. history

Photos courtesy of Zola Barnes Participants in the Save Our Skills Preservation workshop hosted by the Keweenaw Historic Park put their skills to work on a wall at the Quincy Smelter.

CALUMET — Stone buildings in the Copper Country are prime examples of historical methods and materials. Efforts to maintain these locations are vital to the village of Calumet and to the National Park Service.

Recently, the Keweenaw National Historic Park hosted a three and a half-day Save Our Skills Preservation workshop on historic preservation fundamentals, building analysis and historic masonry, in partnership with the Campaign for Historic Trades, a national program of Preservation Maryland.

Workshop Coordinator for the Campaign for Historic Trades, Zola Barnes, said the Campaign is the nonprofit partner of the Historic Preservation Training Center, a department of the National Park Service.

The workshop ran from Thursday, August 24 through Saturday, August 26 and covered various aspects of historic preservation and masonry.

“For the past couple months, we’ve been working together to put together this Historic Preservation Fundamentals, as well as a Historic Preservation masonry and repair workshop,” said Barnes.

“The way that that happens is the Campaign will work with a partner, meaning the KNHP, and we’ll engage an expert in that skilled area. In this instance, it was an expert mason, Bruce Wright, who previously worked with the Park Service, but is now retired.”

Wright is a historic preservation and historic masonry expert with over 45 years experience in the field, 13 of which have been with NPS Historic Preservation Training projects across the country.

The Historic Preservation Training Center and the Campaign for Historic Trades came together with the mission to expand and strengthen careers in historic trades.

“Our work revolves around enhancing access for different students and giving them the skills to maintain, preserve, restore, reconstruct or rehabilitate and deconstruct historic structures,” Barnes said.

The first day of the workshop focused primarily on historic preservation fundamentals, said Barnes. 30 students were present, 19 of whom continued through the rest of the workshop. The workshop discussed what historic preservation is, including key terms and principles. Following that, came hands on practice with building analysis with a building in Calumet. Workshop members then participated in a tour, “How Geology Affects Your Life,” conducted by KNHP staff.

“So many of the buildings that we were to discuss throughout the rest of the workshop are masonry structures,” Barnes said, “it really has a lot to do with the sandstone.”

That first day ended with everyone discussing their own preservation projects, said Barnes. Many students talked about challenges they have encountered and presented project photographs.

For the rest of the workshop consisted of a study of mortar and types of mortar, lime and Portland Cement, non-hydraulic and naturally hydraulic limes, and natural and artificial cements. Participants wrapped up the week with hands on masonry preservation at the Quincy Smelter.

Among the attendees were Park Service employees, people from the village of Calumet, people from the Robert E. Johnson (REJ) Contracting Company as well as the Building Restoration Specialty Company. Other attendees included employees of the Michigan DNR, U.P. Engineers and Architects, Crowheart, LLC, and a representative of Painesdale Mine & Shaft, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the Champion Mining Company’s Number 4 Shaft House. Youthworks also participated. Denver-based Building Restoration Specialty owns several structures in Calumet, which are under restoration. REJ, of Lake Linden, also does historical and restoration work.

“We were excited that we got such a large group of people,” Barnes said. “We also had some local homeowners, which is really excellent.”

Calumet Village Vice President Pamela Que said that workshops like this recent one are important to Calumet’s revitalization program, which includes rehabilitating late 19th and early 20th century buildings that dominate the village and its surrounding areas.


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