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Project: United States Naval Academy Chapel Restoration

Construction Dates: 1996 - 1998



Project Description:


This project included extensive granite and limestone repair, repointing, patching and reseting. Concrete demolition and installation work was also performed during this project. Selective concrete demolition was performed on the massive chapel dome while new side walk sections and curbs were formed and poured around the Admirals residence. The elaborate decorative stone cornice in the upper drum was extensively repaired and patched using Jahn Restoration Mortar. Several replica castings and

freezes were fabricated and set in place, one of which was located in the tomb of John Paul Jones.


Waters’ skilled craftsmen completed work on a three million dollar contract to restore and preserve the exterior of the Naval Academy's Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland. Approaching Annapolis, one is greeted by a panoramic view absent the modern highrise buildings one would expect to find in the state's capital. But rather dominating this panorama of steeples, spires and Maryland's own capitol building cupola is the imposing tiered dome of the United States Naval Academy Chapel, rising 210 feet above sea level. In 196l, the U. S. Naval Academy was designated as a Registered National Historic Landmark. The Academy Chapel is in the Category I; a property of major historic importance, in the National Architectural and Engineering Record. This multi-faceted project required a complete exterior make-over of an elaborate stone structure. But in some form or fashion, it also covered the three other critical areas of restoration involving wood, metal and stained glass. From doorknobs to catwalks,

copper to lead caps, Tiffany windows to skylights, terra cotta to granite to limestone, and from repointing to re-sculpting, the vast majority of work involved stone repair and restoration. Using a computer-generated critical path method of planning and scheduling restoration projects, Waters was able to manage multiple subcontracts. In this case, each of the seven subs were required to follow the project timeline which defines activity relationships for those tasks that were contracted out, e.g. gilding; metal restoration, asbestos removal, copper and modified roofing, exterior lighting, replacement of sound system, and plumbing. Waters performed all of the masonry work, including the repointing and resetting of limestone and the massive blocks of granite. One element was the restoration of an elaborate decorative stone cornice on the upper drum. This work involved extensive patching and re-sculpting of stone using Jahn restoration mortar. The craftsmen took extra care to protect the site and the historic structure. The Chapel houses a collection of some of the finest Tiffany stained glass windows known to exist. During the stone restoration, these magnificent windows were protected at all times.


According to Site Foreman Frank Camden, "There's nothing easy about this job but that's okay, because it keeps us on our toes. We've had to correct a lot of things that weren't in the specs." From the beginning, Camden has faced the challenge of overcoming the rapidly deteriorating condition of the building which has created much more work than was envisioned five years earlier when the architect designed the project. The Navy drawings detailed a design of eight skylights and eight accessory

matching copper clad panels in between. A closer look revealed that the skylights were much larger than originally thought with as much as a 4 to 5 inch variance in each opening size. To make matters worse, few or no as-built drawings existed. The almost century - old skylights had been concreted over; removal was tedious and laborious as they were literally busted out with sledge hammers. Waters' redesign eliminated the copper clad panels and the elaborate framing grid that would have eventually been lifted into place by helicopter. This new simple design saved the Navy thousands of dollars. The Navy contract was completed ahead of schedule in January of 1999, with no cost overruns in spite of delays that were caused by numerous redesigns during the first six months. The Navy presented Waters with a Safety Standown Report stating that no safety violations were noted for this project.


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