Summary of Preservation Project
St. John’s Church Foundation raised $70,000 to repair the north corner foundation of St. John’s Church and to repair deteriorated floor framing. As part of the larger Legacy of Liberty Preservation Project, a structural investigation of conditions at the north end foundation wall of the church and surrounding sanctuary floor framing uncovered problems that needed attention. Although the majority of framing and foundation conditions were found to be in satisfactory condition, the northeast corner presented some troubling conditions where the foundations were locally undermined due to some earlier soil removals within the crawl space. Also in this same area, problems of framing deterioration due to past termite infestation were uncovered. Designs for repairs have been developed, which include locally underpinning the undermined foundations while also reinforcing the floor framing with new wood members from within the crawl space.
Preservation Project Detail
A structural investigation of the north foundation walls of St. John’s Church was performed by the architectural engineering firm 1200 AE. A report was issued on February 4, 2015 and revealed two structural conditions warranting remediation; a 12’ -20’ section of the north foundation wall was found to be undermined and an area of first floor wood flooring and framing below the northeast stair was observed to be severely deteriorated.
The foundation along the north elevation has been undermined due to soil removal in the crawl space at an undetermined time. Soil has been cut straight down from the edge of the wall foundation to a depth of approximately three feet below the bottom of the footing. The lack of soil to contain the material directly below the foundation creates a condition that is susceptible to local settlement.
The area of framing deterioration below the northeast stair to the balcony reveals a history of termite damage. This damage has caused significant loss of material both for the floor board and for the floor joists. One joist is completely missing. At least some portion of this deteriorated area is below the stair, where it would not pose a structural problem, however, it appears that portions of the deteriorated area do extend beyond those bounds and some framing repair will be warranted.
1200 AE recommended localized underpinning of the east end of the north wall to extend the bearing elevation of the footings down below the excavated are within the crawl space. Depth of the underpinning is estimated to be approximately 3 to 4 feet. Framing repairs consisted of localized joist replacement or sistering, with some replacement or re-support of the floor boards.
1200 AE has produced construction documents for the project and provided design and construction administration.
Undertaking this project proved to be difficult. Accessing the work was done from the exterior. Contractors approached the foundation from the exterior of the church which is the historic graveyard surrounding this corner of the church. This is extremely delicate work and required hand digging. Because an historic graveyard is involved in this work, the Foundation hired JRI Archaeology to oversee the work being completed. If any human remains are exposed during the digging, work will stop and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources will be contacted to ensure the Foundation and contractors are abiding by all laws of the Commonwealth to protect those interred in the historic graveyard which is an extremely valuable historic resource in its own right. The Foundation appreciates the sensitivity required to undertake this important project and to ensure a successful outcome of underpinning the foundation wall, repairing the damaged flooring and protecting all historic resources including the graveyard.
This entire project budget is over $70,000. This includes the costs to underpin the foundation, floor joist repair and floor repair, on-site archaeology, painting, project administration, permits, and an 18% contingency.
The Foundation recently completed the Legacy of Liberty Preservation Project Phase 2 at a cost of $483,000. Main components of this phase included replacing the leaking roof of the church, painting the church exterior and repairing the church shutters. It was during the roof work phase that the structural engineer hired to examine the roof found the issues with the foundation and the floor joists. This new discovery was not in the budget or scope of work to be completed in Phase 2 and there was no money left from the completion of this phase to be used for the foundation work.