NORMAN — Brick by brick, Norman is connecting to its history.
The Norman Historic District Commission hosted two days of masonry workshops this weekend to teach residents and others interested in historical preservation how to repair masonry.
Downtown business owner Brad Goodman allowed the Historic Commission to work on the wall of one of his historic buildings. Preservation expert Bob Yapp taught the workshops.
“The greenest building is the one already built,” said Susan Atkinson, the city’s liaison with historic preservation. “It’s part of the sense of place which is our community. These buildings anchor us to this place.”
The workshops were funded by a grant from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, through the Oklahoma Preservation Office Certified Local Government program.
Students learned how to mix mortar, remove damaged material and re-point mortar.
In addition to Norman and the Oklahoma City metro area, interested participants attended from Ponca City and Ardmore, Atkinson said.
Two preservation carpenters, Clancy Fredgren and Paul Paddlety, attended from Norman.
“They specialize in old houses in Norman,” Atkinson said.
The carpenters wanted to improve their masonry knowledge.
“I’ve learned a lot about re-pointing and I’ve picked up a lot of tips,” Paddlety said.
The workshop focused on how to repair the damaged masonry and replace mortar without damaging the brick.
Yapp said the old building the group was working on had undersized gutters for the length of the roof, which causes a great deal of water to be dumped down the north side of the edifice when it rains. That water spills over the gutter and penetrates the brick and mortar. When temperatures turn cold and it freezes, it also expands and causes the face of the bricks to pop off.
“That’s called spalling,” Yapp said describing the effect.
Fredgren and Paddlety work for Tom Fredgren, who restored the historical house museum last year, but the workshop appealed to a wide range of people.
“Both sessions attracted a wide variety of people with very diverse backgrounds and life experiences,” Atkinson said. “But they’re all interested in old buildings.”
Jack Warner, of A to Z Inspections, is a home inspector based in Oklahoma City.
“Jack is the rare home inspector that wants to understand old building systems like masonry,” Atkinson said.
Yapp teaches that it is always better to maintain and repair than to restore. Waiting until major restoration work is needed is more costly and means a greater loss of the authentic history of a building. He has been involved in the rehabilitation of more than 150 endangered historic properties.