Valued for it ability to be easily carved (worked) into intricate designs, sandstone is also a relatively soft stone that erodes easily, especially with the extreme freeze/thaw cycles that Michigan experiences. As part of our restoration efforts at the El Moore we’ve been evaluating the condition of its 116 year old face. Having sat vacant for the past 20 years and likely not receiving much attention even when it was occupied, the sandstone is suprisingly in good shape. Rain and wind have softened some of its more exposed features and the black soot from industry has darkened the original the pink hue of the stone. For the most part, this slight wearing and discoloration are appropriate for a building of this age and help give the material character. However, there are a couple elements that required complete replacement and we are tasked with matching century old stone, stone that was quarried from mines that closed nearly a century ago. Finding a modern day match had proven to be a chore.
These elements include:
New front stairs and porch slabs Here we found a grey sandstone still quarried in Cleveland that was a good color match to the original and the stone is currently being cut for installation in the fall.
Eastern Balconies Just last week we identified a match for these porch slabs. While they appear yellow, the matching stone starts out as grey and over time oxidation changes its color. We only learned this after a portion of the balcony broke away and revealed a clean cut face that was grey. These too are being cut and the balconies should be restored by early fall.
Red Sandstone Corbel Balcony Supports Eleven of the original corbels are badly damaged and need to be replaced. Because the majority will remain in place it is critical that we achieve an exact color match. The Cleveland quarry that matched our other two sandstones had a red but its was too orange to provide a match. Finally last week we approved a sample from a Colorado quarry that should compliment the rest of the building’s red sandstone.