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Restoring and renovating a New York cathedral
by Laurie Wells, BES (Arch.), MA, RSW
Images courtesy Old World Stone
STONE BUILDINGS, ESPECIALLY CATHEDRALS,
ARE MEANT TO LAST FOR GENERATIONS.
UNFORTUNATELY, THE CATHEDRAL OF THE IMMACULATE
CONCEPTION IN ALBANY, NEW YORK, EXPERIENCED
SEVERE FAILURES FROM ITS EARLIEST YEARS.
Well before the groundbreaking ceremony, the ﬁrst suggestion
of stone quality issues was in correspondence between the
project architect, Patrick Charles Keely, and Bishop John
McCloskey in 1848. The architect had specified Palisades
sandstone, but an offer to supply a brown sandstone from
a new quarry in Connecticut promised to save $40,000—
a substantial ﬁgure, given the total project cost of $250,000.
The main body of the church was completed in 1852, with
the towers following in 1862 and 1888, and ﬁnally the sacristy
in 1892. 1 This article focuses on some of the challenges of
this project that were speciﬁc to working with dimensional-
The availability of suitable matching materials in usable
dimensions on a timely basis are key elements of the building
process. The long-term success of any stone assembly is the
durability of the ﬁnished product. This case study explains
64 the construction speciﬁer | march 2013
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