Faith In Masonry

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary renovation project wins awards
All photos courtesy of the Masonry Institute of St. Louis.

masonry rennovation
Erected in 1931,  the current Seminary campus has been the center for the education of young men entering the Catholic priesthood for 85 years.

The most visible landmark in the town of Shrewsbury, Mo., is the distinctive brick bell tower of the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. A glimpse of it hints at the beauty of the masonry buildings on the Seminary campus. These structures look like they were transported to their hilltop location from a town in Tuscany.

Erected in 1931, the current Seminary campus has been the center for the education of young men entering the Catholic priesthood for 85 years. The Seminary underwent a renovation from 2011-2012. This project won awards of merit from both the American Institute of Architects and the St. Louis Landmarks Association in 2013. Masonry not only played a major role in the construction of the original Seminary complex, but also in the renovations and upgrades.

masonry rennovation select blend bricks new addition
Great care was taken to select a blend of bricks for the new addition.

The original construction in 1930 was completed by Fred Daues, Sr. of Daues Contracting Company.
The original construction in 1930 was completed by Fred Daues,  Sr. of Daues Contracting Company.

“Our use of masonry on this project was an obvious choice. The beauty and durability of that original building was tied to its own masonry construction. Using a well-matched brick to continue the building’s sense of timelessness and permanence, and have our addition feel equal in character—and yet part of the whole complex—was important to us,” said Brendan Smith, project architect for Cannon Design.

The Seminary’s distinctive, original undergraduate building features a multi-wythe brick construction that uses up to six wythes of brick toward its base. Expansion plans on this project called for the construction of a new addition to fit in a space between two of the building’s wings.

Cannon Design chose a cavity wall system using a CMU load-bearing wall with a brick veneer for this three-story addition. The intent was to blend in with the original building, but not mimic it.

“Space was at a premium; the inches counted,” said Smith. “Using CMU as a back up to the face brick allowed us to use those exterior walls both for primary structural support and for shear. We got a cleaner layout and a better use of space than we would have if we had used perimeter steel framing.”

The masonry bearing walls and flat concrete slab construction allowed the contractors to match the floor-to-floor heights of the original building while still allowing enough ceiling space for modern HVAC systems.

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary masonry renovation project
“Using a well-matched brick to continue the building’s sense of timelessness and permanence,  and have our addition feel equal in character—and yet part of the whole complex—was important to us,” said Brendan Smith,  project architect for Cannon Design.

masonry rennovation original building new building
The original building is on the right,  and the new building is on the left.

The choice of brick on this addition was critical, as the original brick was no longer available. The design and construction team studied numerous options before settling on a blend of 67-percent Shadow-Tex and 33-percent Light Autumn brick (both from Midwest Block and Brick) that was blended at the plant.

“Danielle Bach, architectural rep for Midwest Block and Brick, did a great job of finding the right brick for this project,” said Smith. “She really nailed it.”

Brian Bell, project manager for general contractor BSI credits the masons from John J. Smith Masonry for their craftsmanship and dedication on this project.

“Smith Masonry did multiple mock-ups to help us arrive at a match for the existing brick,” said Bell. “It was worth the effort to go the distance and get this match. It is remarkable that it is an almost seamless transition to an existing 80-year old wall.”

bell tower Kenrick-Glennon Seminary masonry renovation project Shrewsbury
The distinctive bell tower makes the seminary a highly visible landmark in Shrewsbury.

Randy Rathert, director of building and real estate for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, served as the owner’s representative on this project. He appreciated the level of craftsmanship displayed not only on the construction of the new addition, but on all of the renovation work involved in this project. “The craftsmanship speaks for itself,” he said. “Everybody involved in the project enjoyed restoring this architectural treasure. It showed in the quality of their workmanship and the pride they took in their work. Smith is a good masonry contractor. I have worked with them on numerous projects over my career.”

David Tarter served as superintendent and foreman on this project for John J. Smith Masonry, while Chris Nyland and Mike Healey also shared foreman duties.

Masonry provided additional solutions to this sprawling renovation project. Modernizing entrances on this historic structure for handicapped access without taking away from the building’s original beauty with an ill-fitting addition required a high degree of craftsmanship.

The main entrance to the undergraduate building was converted from a staircase into a switchback ramp that also functions as a common space. Granite walls on this ramp also serve as benches where people can congregate or wait for rides. Another ADA-compliant entrance with granite ramps and walls was added to a courtyard area on the building’s interior. The new stone ramps blend seamlessly with the original architecture.

A new ADA-compliant entrance is made of structural masonry accented with granite walls.
A new ADA-compliant entrance is made of structural masonry accented with granite walls.

The building’s original staircase had to be rebuilt to comply with current codes.
The building’s original staircase had to be rebuilt to comply with current codes.

The masons built the structures for new handicap lifts on the east and west sides of the sanctuary wing. They also added a new entry way on the west side of the sanctuary. A new, taller and steeper staircase was built to accommodate this new lift.

The campus’s original power plant was repurposed to a student lounge and recreation center. Saving this building’s original brick for reuse whenever possible was an important part of this project.

“We have people who know how to take masonry apart and save it, rather than just tear things down,” said Tarter.

Granite walls and granite bench give the entrance an additional use as a common space.
Granite walls and granite bench give the entrance an additional use as a common space.

The masons built a three-story elevator shaft inside the building. A new handicap accessible entrance ramp featuring block footings, brick veneer, and limestone capping was installed on the structure’s main entrance. The building’s smokestack was capped and tuck-pointed to prevent water intrusion. Original brick and window lintels were removed, cleaned and repaired where necessary.

The original power plant was converted to a student lounge and rec center.
The original power plant was converted to a student lounge and rec center.

No detail on this project was treated as minor. While it often is said that work is its own reward, the participants in the renovation of the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary are also proud of the recognition they have received from design and preservation organizations.

“I have been involved in a lot of historic rehab projects,” said Rathert. “This was a very pleasurable project for me to be involved in. I’m very pleased with the end product and the process of the masonry.”

Project at a glance

Owner
Archdiocese of St. Louis
Architect
Cannon Design
General Contractor
BSI Constructors, Inc.
Mason Contractor
John J. Smith Masonry
Block and Brick

Midwest Block and Brick
Precast Stone
Caliber Cast Stone
Tuckpointing
James G. Staat Tuckpointing and Waterproofing
Cut Limestone
Architectural Stone
Craft Workers
Bricklayers’ Union Local #1 of Missouri, Eastern Missouri Laborers’ District Council

Originally appeared in the Masonry newsletter from the Masonry Institute of St. Louis. Reprinted with permission.

 

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