Have we got bricks...
February 21, 2021
From Norfolk Southern's employee commmincations and social media...
Norfolk Southern has donated century-old bricks from the demolition of a former mechanical shop in the old New Bern rail yard to the New Bern Preservation Foundation. The bricks will be used in several preservation projects, including restoration of the Union Station train depot and the King Solomon Lodge #1. The lodge building, built in 1870, five years after the Civil War, is the first African American masonic lodge organized in North Carolina and the lodge structure itself is thought to be the oldest in North Carolina and possibly the South. “We have received a substantial number of bricks from the old railroad structure that we can repurpose here in New Bern,” said Tim Thompson, president of the Preservation Foundation. “It’s great that Norfolk Southern was able to work with us and help the New Bern community in this way.”
NS employees feel good about it as well. “As a railroad, we don’t always have the time or the resources to make things like this happen, so when you get an opportunity to work with the community and really have a positive result, it’s all the more rewarding,” said Adam Motsinger, engineer for environmental operations.
Salvaging of the bricks almost didn’t happen. In mid-December, Motsinger was overseeing a project alongside NS’ East Carolina branch line in New Bern to demolish the old shop building, which had long been vacant and in disrepair. When Thompson saw crews taking down the building, he stopped to ask about the bricks – a valuable commodity in a city that dates back to 1710. “If we can't save a structure and it is going to be demolished, we like to try to salvage whatever we can, so it all doesn’t end up in the landfill or permanently destroyed,” Thompson said. “People are frequently searching for these old bricks for repairs. It’s really hard to get new bricks that match the appearance and the patina and wear and tear of the old bricks.”
For budget purposes, NS needed to complete the demolition by year-end, and arrangements already had been made to truck the bricks to a local recycling business. In a flurry of texts and calls, however, NS – working with the North Carolina Railroad, the Preservation Foundation, and New Bern government officials – hammered out a plan over the course of a day to have the bricks delivered instead to a location behind the Union Station depot building under restoration by the Preservation Foundation. Motsinger singled out John Edwards, general director passenger policy, in the NS strategic planning group for his efforts in making it happen. NS operates the EC line for the North Carolina Railroad, and Edwards is the primary NS planning liaison between the two railroads. Tim Bentley, regional vice president, state relations, from our government relations team, also got involved. “So often we’re viewed as being divorced from the communities where we operate, and that’s simply not the case,” Edwards said. “We live there, we breathe there, we have employees there. Here we had an opportunity to work with a community we’re a part of and we were able to do so in a way that makes sense for us, for our partner North Carolina Railroad, and for the community we’re in. I think that’s important.”
John Blackwelder, a member of the Preservation Foundation's board, formerly worked in the brick and masonry products industry and provided a wealth of knowledge about the bricks coming from the demolished building. "The bricks from the shop were probably made locally around the turn of the 20th century", Blackwelder said. "It appears to be a mix of handmade bricks and manufactured bricks."
The Preservation Foundation may use some of the bricks to reconsrtuct a fireplace and chimney in the main waiting room of Union Station Depot, a former passenger rail depot from 1910 to the mid-1950s. Some of the bricks may also be used to restoration work on the King Solomon Lodge structure's foundation. As part of fund-raising efforts, the Preservation Foundation expects to sell some the bricks to residents who need them for repairing New Bern's numerous historic structures. “There’s multiple facets that make this positive,” Motsinger said. “It’s good from the historical significance, it’s good from the community relations aspect, and it’s good from the environmental perspective. This is a true beneficial reuse of these bricks.”
Union Station Depot Restoration
February 21, 2021
The Union Station restoration was a slow mover in 2020. The pandemic put a some real restraints on what we could get done for a large project like this. In 2021 we are going to focus the work on completing all exterior stabilization work, which means repairing all the second floor windows that we can. We also want to make a push to really advertise the property for commercial development.
Update on King Solomon Lodge #1 Restoration
February 21, 2021
Work on the exterior of King Solomon's Lodge #1 continues to move forward.
A new standing seam metal roof is in place as well as the rebuilt cupola.
Siding and windows on the south side have been replaced.
New front steps are under construction.
The cinder block skirt has been removed to expose the original brick foundation.
Electrical service from the street has been placed underground.
The next tasks are replacement of windows and siding on the west and south sides. A full preservation plan for the interior restoration funded by the North Carolina State Preservation Office will be starting soon.
Funding for a majority of this project has come from grants and generous donations from the New Bern community.
To make a donation, click the yellow button.
For more information, click the teal strip.