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Profile: Architectural Conservator, Dale Waters

Dale Waters created “Waters Craftsmen” in 1982, with the goal to provide superior building restoration consultation and preservation services for historic and sacred buildings.
Prior to starting his venture, Mr. Waters began his career in the field as an apprentice stained glass craftsman in 1973, eventually working his way up to foreman for Hauser Studios of Winona, MN. He supervised several crews based in Front Royal, Virginia and also provided marketing services before leaving the company to start his own business.
In 1998 Mr. Waters worked with and studied under Dr. Martin Weaver…an engineer, architect, and conservator.  Dr. Weaver instructed at Columbia University and Pennsylvania State University and authored the definitive book on historic restoration, “Conserving Buildings: A Manual of Techniques and Materials.”
Together, Mr. Waters and Dr. Weaver worked to restore the Governor's Mansion in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands owned by the East Indies Corporation and the Fortaleza, a World Heritage site, built by Ponce de Leon and utilized as the headquarters of the fort at El Moro National Monument…better known locally as the Governor’s Mansion in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Under Martin's tutelage Mr. Waters restored the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and several other historic buildings in the metro D.C. area. All of these buildings included metal and slate roof restoration.
In 1999 Mr. Waters consulted with the Army Corps of Engineers to investigate and explore claims made by historic property owners in Staten Island, which claimed damage was caused by blasting in the East River near New York City. The investigation by Mr. Waters helped settle the case and cleared the Army Corps of Engineers of any wrongdoing.
Later, Mr. Waters helped to design and restore a Gothic Cathedral, better known as the Chapel at the United States Military Academy at West Point; a seven year project that included stone, stained glass, metal roof and facade restoration. Waters Craftsmen also restored Taylor Hall, Washington Hall, Thayer Hall, the superintendents and assistant superintendents’ considered by many to be the most historic structures at West Point. Also during this period, Waters Craftsmen removed and restored over 2,000 square feet of historic Willet stained glass windows.  The glass was carefully removed and transported to the Virginia studios of Waters Craftsmen where they were disassembled, re-camed and then reinstalled into restored ornate limestone tracery.
Additionally during that time, Mr. Waters worked with the renowned structural engineer David Fischetti; the engineer of record at the Hatteras Light House railway transport project. Over a twenty year period Mr. Waters and Mr. Fischetti have worked together to consult and restore dozens of historic structures, including the Historic Monumental Church, the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, and the circa 1780s Chapel in Hopewell, Virginia.  During the Hopewell project, the timber frame roof structure was restored and literally raised above the brick structure and the 36 inch thick walls pulled back into a stable position.  The vaulted plaster ceiling was also replaced after the interior finished were restored.
These projects involve all facets of historic restoration, or what Mr. Waters refers to as the "holistic approach" to restoration and preservation.  While many building conservators focus on one particular element like fabric, stone, or metal, Waters Craftsmen uses an integrated systems paradigm that encompasses all materials and activities affecting a project. Quality control and project planning procedures are an integral part of the holistic method; to include all elements of a historic building. This unique approach has increased the quality and efficiency of expensive labor intensive projects and in-turn reduced restoration costs. Many property owners who otherwise would not be able to restore their buildings, can work under a tailored phased project plan that addresses the highest priority items first; like water incursion and structural problems, and later aesthetic concerns…all planned over a period of several years.
Mr. Waters has applied this philosophy to help restore and maintain many prominent historic churches in the southeast U.S. for fifteen, and some cases twenty year periods.  The structures include Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; Christ Episcopal Church in Blacksburg, Virginia; Duke Memorial Church in Chapel Hill North Carolina  and others. Often the projects include HVAC and the integration of modern heating and cooling units into historic buildings.
In 2000 Mr. Waters applied his craft in a remote Andes mountain village, working with the Sisters of Charity; a Michigan based convent. At 14,000 feet elevation, he worked with the local Catechu Indians to build and restore the stained glass windows in their circa 1700 adobe chapel in Manazo, Peru.
In 2002 Waters Craftsmen was selected among many other national firms to restore the exterior of the US Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland. Waters Craftsmen removed priceless multilayered Tiffany Art Glass windows, restored the elaborate frames, terra-cotta balusters, drainage system, stone parapets, the dome plinth and copper roofing systems, and historic features inside the tomb of John Paul Jones. This project involved collaboration with international firms to provide access through the inside of the multi-domed structure that extended through the skylights at the top of the dome below the lantern. It also included gold leaf gilding of the lantern structure and conservation of the huge bronze doors and anchors at the entrance. Waters Craftsmen also re-pointed and restored the glazed brick facade and replaced over 200 granite modillions that had been removed during a 1950 renovation.
Having worked with the National Park Service to restore windows and coatings at prominent residences in Washington D.C., Mr. Waters was also chosen to restore the Castillo de San Marco Monument in St Augustine, Florida…arguably America’s oldest and most precious historical structure. The two-year project included removing all of the cannons and replacing the massive terra-plane metal and concrete roof system, as well as restoration of the coquina parapets and courtyard walls. Waters Craftsmen also replaced timber frame gun platforms and electrical systems and plumbing. The project involved establishing a temporary dura-base mat road system and erecting a 360 foot crane to access the 300 year old fort, where access was restricted by ancient walls, palisades and ancient Native American burial sites.
Following the successful restoration of the Castillo, Waters Craftsmen was again picked by the Park Service to restore another national treasure.  Located 70 miles southwest of Key West, Florida on the small remote island of Dry Tortuga, and prison to the infamous Samuel Alexander Mudd in Fort Jefferson National Park.  Lacking basic necessities such as fresh water, sewer, power and cell phone service, Mr. Waters designed and helped build a self contained solar powered, 100% biodiesel micro-cogeneration ecologically friendly base camp, to house the ten man crew for over a year. Working on the ancient brick fort required spanning the moat and removing rusted and expanded 800 pound cast iron embrasure blocks, and then rebuilding the 40 foot tall brick walls with a historic lime putty mortar.
Waters Craftsmen has restored literally hundreds of sacred and historic properties throughout the United States, the Caribbean, and locally in the metro Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, including the restoration of elements of the Department of Justice, the Holocaust Museum, the Library of Congress, the Maryland State Senate House, the Maryland Governor’s Mansion, the National Cathedral, St Mathews, and the State House in Richmond, Virginia. The clear and precise approach that Mr. Waters applies to all projects, both big and small, is designed to provide the most economic means and best results. Without this clear and concise holistic approach, many historic property owners could not afford to address the numerous overwhelming problems inherent in historical restoration.
Most recently, Mr. Waters has been involved in efforts to rescue the Thomas Jefferson designed resort and bathhouse, along with over 27 Lewis (Lewis and Clark fame) family historic buildings at Sweet Springs West Virginia. Stabilization efforts have been underway for several years, but the facility is lacking funds to continue the work.  Mr. Waters is currently collaborating with the West Virginia Office of Cultural Resources and the State Historic Preservation Office to find matching grants to complete the work.
Having tackled dozens of monumental preservation and restoration projects, Mr. Waters has become familiar with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation with Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings.  He understands how to work with the often confusing and limiting standards that pervade the limited budgets of smaller historic property owners. Mr. Waters, more than anyone in this small specialized field, understands the physical structural intricacies of his craft via decades of hands-on practical experience…and more important, how to apply the trade of historical restoration in a methodically efficient manner that brings his company’s talents within fiscal reach of those whom might otherwise, see their beloved structures collapse into ruin.
About David Fischetti

About Dr. Martin E. Weaver

Previous Jobs Done by our Company​


-Historic Richmond Foundation Monumental Church - Richmond, Virginia (National Historic Landmark)
-St. Luke's Episcopal Church - Washington DC (National Historic Landmark)
-Martin’s Brandon Episcopal Church - Burrowsville, Virginia (National Register of Historic Places)
-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart - Richmond, Virginia (National Register of Historic Places)
-Grace Reform Church - Washington DC (National Register of Historic Places)
-Centenary Reformed United Church of Christ - Winchester, Virginia
-Duke Memorial United Methodist Church - Durham, North Carolina
-Myers Park United Methodist Church - Charlotte, North Carolina
-Christ Church United Church of Christ - Annville, Pennsylvania
-Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church - Arlington, Virginia
-Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church - Elkins, West Virginia
-The Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church - Washington DC
-Universalist National Memorial Church - Washington DC
-Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle - Washington DC
-Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Detroit Michigan
-St. Peter Catholic Church - Charlotte, North Carolina
-Emmanuel Episcopal Church - Baltimore, Maryland
-St. Columba’s Episcopal Church - Washington DC
-First Lutheran Church of Norfolk - Norfolk, Virginia
-St. Patrick’s Catholic Church - Lexington. Virginia
-Congregation Beth Ahabah - Richmond, Virginia
-Meade Memorial Church - White Post, Virginia
-Christ Episcopal Church - Blacksburg, Virginia
-First Baptist Church - Pascagoula, Mississippi
-St. John’s Episcopal Church - Halifax, Virginia
-Berryville Baptist Church - Berryville, Virginia

National Park Service
-Jekyll Island Authority / Georgia Sea Turtle Center - Jekyll Island, Georgia (National Historic Landmark)
-Lincoln Boyhood Home National Memorial - Lincoln City, Indiana (National Historic Landmark)
-Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive - Luray, Virginia (National Historic Landmark)
-La Fortaleza at el Moro - Old San Juan, Puerto Rico (National Historic Landmark)
-Virginia Military Institute - Lexington, Virginia (National Historic Landmark)
-Meridian Hill Park - Washington DC (National Historic Landmark)
-The Arlington House- Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia (National Register of Historic Places)
-Castillo De San Marcos National Monument - St. Augustine, Florida (National Register of Historic Places)
-Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas National Park - Key West, Florida (National Register of Historic Places)
-Fort Macon State Park - Atlantic Beach, North Carolina (National Register of Historic Places)
-East Potomac Park Club House - Washington DC

-United States Naval Academy Chapel - Annapolis, Maryland (National Historic Landmark)
-Malmstrom Air Force Chapel - Great Falls, Montana
-USMA Cadet Chapel - West Point, New York

-Grey Towers National Historic Site, US Forest Service - Milford, Pennsylvania (National Historic Landmark)
-Thomas Day House / Union Tavern - Milton, North Carolina (National Historic Landmark)
-Owens-Thomas House - Savannah, Georgia (National Historic Landmark)
-Maryland State House - Annapolis, Maryland (National Historic Landmark)
-Alex Brown Building - Baltimore, Maryland (National Register of Historic Places)
-Duke of Gloucester Fire Department / PEGTV Studio - Annapolis, Maryland
-Bald Head Island Lighthouse - Bald Head Island, North Carolina
-Marshall Family Gravestone Preservation - Marshall, Virginia
-McDowell Hall / St. John’s College - Annapolis, Maryland
-New Jersey State House - Trenton, New Jersey
-Governor’s Mansion - Annapolis, Maryland
-Duke University - Durham, North Carolina
-Paul Nash Building - Petersburg, Virginia
-The Embassy of Brazil - Washington DC
-408 Row House - Washington DC



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