Q&A - December 16, 2016

A “facelift” is a surgical procedure that improves the visible signs of aging in the face and neck, revealed after the swelling goes down and bandages are removed. When a building is remodeled, it’s also referred to as a “facelift.” When all of the demolition and reconstruction work is over and scaffolding is removed, a more attractive structure is revealed.

I’ve been noticing all over town, work crews have been busy. Many homes and commercial buildings have been renovated, resided, repainted, and reroofed. It seems like Okmulgee is undergoing an extreme makeover.

I’d like to illuminate the “facelift” of the old Post Office with my column this week.

 

Q:The brick is really looking nice on the old Post Office. Have they been cleaning it?

I agree; the old building is almost looking new again. In the back alley alone, the vines have been taken out, the scraggly trees cut down, and old rotten fence removed. While this structure was extremely well-built in 1918 and 1919, it was certainly beginning to show its age. To roll back the effects of time and neglect, brick and masonry restoration work began in early November and is making a big difference in the overall appearance of the Grand Old Post Office.

Amazingly, the exterior walls of this building are three bricks thick (that’s over a foot in wall thickness). The original “beefy” construction of these masonry walls provides superior temperature and noise insulation. So, it will not be necessary to hide any of these beautiful brick surfaces behind layers of insulation or sheetrock. The phrase, “they don’t build things the way they use to,” really comes to mind.

Our design plans call for some brick walls to have new door and window openings along the north and east sides of the building. When old bricks are removed, they are being salvaged to replace missing or broken bricks in other parts of the building.

In a process called “tuck-pointing,” crumbling mortar in brick walls is removed and replaced with new mortar to avoid structural and water damage. All of the old and failing mortar joints on the exterior of the building are being carefully ground down to make room for new mortar. The original mortar was a pinkish gray color, and that’s exactly what is going back on the building.

<>Additionally, the clay and terracotta tiles along the roofline (on the parapet walls) are being repaired/replaced and resealed. This will protect against future water infiltration into the top of the brick walls and reduce the risk of cracking or settling from any normal wall movement.

 

And finally, all the exterior brick walls are getting a mild acid wash to remove any excess mortar and clean up the accumulation of dirt and grime from the past century. It is heartening to see the dulling effects of age being washed away and the beauty of the original brickwork beginning to shine through once again.

Thank you for your continued interest in this special downtown student housing project and for your many kind comments. If you have more questions, please forward them to me at osuit-president@okstate.edu.