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Grand Masonic Lodge of
Pennsylvania – Philadelphia

The Masonic Temple of Philadelphia was constructed in 1873. It has been called one of the great “wonders” of the Masonic world. Adorned with some of the finest artifacts of Freemasonry and magnificent Lodge rooms based on themes of the ancient architectural world, the Masonic Temple connects us with our past by outwardly displaying the Masonic traditions and values.

 

Like any aging work, time has had a deteriorating effect on this great wonder. During 2008, extensive work was performed to repair the roof, clean the stone, and repair and repaint the windows on this National Historic Landmark. Right Worshipful Grand Master Stephen Gardner personally mounted the scaffolding to assure that a high quality job was being done throughout all phases of the project. Although a costly operation, the overall cost in damage to the structure and repair at a later date made it essential that this work be completed in 2008. When you have a national treasure such as the Masonic Temple, it must be preserved and protected for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

 

Grand Masonic Lodge of Pennsylvania Restoration

Figure 1. The Masonic Temple of Philadelphia was constructed in 1873 and underwent an extensive renovation during 2008 to repair the roof, clean the stone, and repair and repaint the windows on this National Historic Landmark.

 

Grand Masonic Lodge of Pennsylvania Restoration

Figure 2. Throughout most of 2008 the Masonic Temple at One North Broad Street in Philadelphia was surrounded by scaffolding and protective netting while the historic renovations were being performed.

 

CHALLENGE

After 135 years of routine maintenance painting and repairs, Architects were challenged to remove past painting systems to unveil the wood substrates beauty and luster without the hazards of lead based coatings. Irreplaceable painted wood substrates needed pigmented coatings removed for safety, needed repairs, aesthetics, and the achievement of proper surface preparation to avoid future paint failures and insure adhesion. Nearly every window had scares of past paint failures; resulted a challenging combination of coatings to be removed that ranged between 25 to 50 plus coats depending on the elevation and weather exposure. No solvents and minimal amounts of water could be used because the meticulous stone structure was recently cleaned and streaking from potential run off was a concern. Most importantly, the restoration process could not expose pedestrians to harmful lead dust or contaminated run off from excessive amounts of water.

 

APPLICATION

After conducting numerous “Test Patches” on various wood substrates and elevations, it was determined that Smart Strip™ PRO was the optimal paint removal product for this unique and challenging project. Do to the vast range of coating combinations and the number of coats, Smart Strip™ PRO was brush applied ¼” thick and used in conjunction with the Peel Away® Paper to achieve a longer dwell time and prohibit “tenting” or wrinkling of the latex coatings that were applied during the 1980’s and 90’s. After the paper, paste, and coatings were removed with plastic scrapers to avoid gauging the wood substrates, a second application of Smart Strip™ PRO was applied at the same thickness; this time without the use of the Peel Away® Paper to remove all of the remaining paint and residue. The second application was removed using plastic scrappers and the surface was immediately wiped clean with a minimal amount of water as Smart Strip™ PRO does not require neutralization. Dwell times varied between 6-24 hours because of the coating combinations and surface temperatures.

 

Grand Masonic Lodge of Pennsylvania Restoration

Figure 3. “Test Patches” determined that Peel Away® 1 Heavy Duty Paint Remover effectively removed all the coatings in a single application. However, properly neutralizing the wood substrates would have been challenging do to the scaffolding configuration; most windows were difficult to reach and streaking may have occurred on the cleaned stone as a result of not controlling potential run off during the neutralization process. Therefore, “Test Patches” further determined that two (2) applications of Smart Strip™ PRO, the first application using the Peel Away® Paper, the second without, effectively removed between 25 and 50 plus coats of paint. Smart Strip™ Pro does not need to be neutralized.

 

Grand Masonic Lodge of Pennsylvania Restoration

Figure 4. Illustrates the challenging scaffolding configuration; this window is positioned 120 ft. high, it is 20 ft. in diameter, and indented 6.5 ft. from the main scaffolding.

 

Grand Masonic Lodge of Pennsylvania Restoration

Figure 5. Results of the first application; Smart Strip™ PRO used in conjunction with the Peel Away® Paper.

 

Grand Masonic Lodge of Pennsylvania Restoration

Figure 6. Use of the Peel Away® Paper achieved a longer dwell time, prohibited “tenting” or wrinkling of the latex coatings that were applied during the 1980’s and 90’s.

 

Grand Masonic Lodge of Pennsylvania Restoration

Figure 7. Results of the second application; Smart Strip™ PRO used without the Peel Away® Paper. The white areas are wood filler, utilized for aesthetic repairs, the historic mahogany substrate is properly prepared to be primed and painted.

 

Grand Masonic Lodge of Pennsylvania Restoration

Figure 8. Smart Strip™ PRO removed multiple layers of paint that had puddled or ponded over the 135 year history and exposed the intricate detail of the irreplaceable hand carved mahogany.

 

Grand Masonic Lodge of Pennsylvania Restoration

Figure 9. Right Worshipful Grand Master Stephen Gardner personally mounted the scaffolding to assure that a high quality job was being performed throughout all phases of the project.

 

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