The John Street Church

by Don Friedman on July 22, 2016

It’s always nice to see a project building written up, even if it’s not our project under discussion. Curbed had a good description of the [third] John Street Church: here. And since no blog post is complete with a picture that is either beautiful or confusing, here’s a picture that’s not beautiful:

John Street 2

That’s the ridge joint in one of the roof trusses, showing you the joiners’ marks (the roman numbers) and their stars and the word “Union.” Since the trusses were mostly reused from the second church, constructed in 1818, I suspect this is a reference to pride in the newish United States.

Our involvement was quite simple: the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001 noticeably shook the building, and the people there wanted to know that no structural damage had occurred as a result. Our approach was even simpler: we were conducting an investigation only, in a New York designated landmark that is also on the National Register of Historic Places, and therefore we looked around and disturbed as little as possible. A friend who works in our field, Peter Elliott, introduced me to the phrase “Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints” and that was our goal here. In the end, we did ask for some small areas of already-damaged plaster to be removed as probes, but they were already scheduled for repair, so I feel this project was as close as we have ever come to the ideal of hands-off structural investigation.

Previous post:

Next post: