True Green Cities/Celebrating Ten Years: Restoring a Landmark Sandstone Church

Happy Earth Day!! Celebrating Ten Years!  It’s been ten years since I launched Barbara A. Campagna/Architecture + Planning, PLLC and while many things have changed, my goal to work on “greening what’s already here” continues to be met, often in places I never expected. I’ve been working on a historic church in Jamestown, NY since 2017 and this year we ramped up the exterior restoration.

What Makes St Luke’s a Landmark

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, built in 1894, is a substantial structure of rock-faced Medina sandstone that blends Late Gothic Revival and Romanesque Revival elements. Designed by Boston architect, W.P. Wentworth, it has a traditional cruciform plan with a square bell tower attached to the northeast comer of the church. The tower features a clock on each face side and rounded comers topped with conical pinnacles. St. Luke’s is enhanced by an intact interior, stained glass windows, an arcaded facade (with a front porch or narthex) and stone tracery in the west facing Rose Window. Both the tower and the church have engaged corner buttresses and Gothic arches at the first and second floor levels. The belfry has a pointed arch opening on each elevation with louvers and stone tracery. A shed-roof porch (also called Narthex) projects from the front elevation (west) on North Main Street and has an arcade of half columns that support pointed arches. Above the porch is a large Rose Window with tracery. A front gabled vestry wing is located north of the church, housing a small chapel on the first floor. 

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is a contributing component of the Jamestown Downtown Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Historic District was listed on the National Register in 2014. 

Preservation Program

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is embarking on a multi-phased exterior restoration to address critical structural and life safety repairs to its iconic masonry architectural features.  This project includes the targeted exterior masonry restoration of the Medina Sandstone building and the structural stabilization of potential life safety hazards from the Bell Tower, the Front Porch/Narthex, and the Front Stair. An initial existing conditions study in 2018 determined that further testing and probes should be conducted to confirm the causes of the structural deficiencies observed.  St. Luke’s received a New York State Environmental Protection Fund grant in 2019 which allowed the Church to hire a professional team in 2020 to 1) develop a probes and subsurface investigation package and 2) the restoration design work.  A team led by Barbara A. Campagna/Architecture + Planning, PLLC, Watts A+E (Buffalo), Barron & Associates Geotechnical Engineers and Trophy Point Cost Estimators all from Buffalo with Silman Structural Engineers (NYC and Detroit) and Jablonski Building Conservation (NYC) was hired.

Evaluation by the architects, conservator, structural engineer and geotechnical engineer through hands-on observations, probes and borescope review of masonry/brick exterior wall conditions identified that the brick back-up wall of the Bell Tower is separating from the Medina sandstone facing – anywhere from 1’’ to 4” on the top two floors of the Tower, presenting an immediate life safety hazard. The Front Porch/Narthex, and the Front Stair are structurally separating from the main body of the building and settling in towards the body of the Church.  Subsurface investigation determined that settling of the building components probably occurred within the first twenty years of its construction and is no longer settling at the foundation. However, water infiltration throughout the building’s roofs and walls is causing the continuous damage and further targeted settlement and cracking throughout the complex.  

The Bell Tower will require structural reattachment of the sandstone facing to the brick back-up walls and the Front Porch/Narthex with the Front Stairs will require complete reconstruction to rebuild the ineffective parapets and flashing, the settled Porch and Front Stairs (which are no longer open to the public). This spring more non-destructive evaluation will be conducted to identify and map the voids in the walls of the Bell Tower.  A construction project will begin in the fall.