"I was shocked - totally surprised," said veteran restoration contractor Brad Dennis, Ziolkowski Construction, South Bend, Ind.
Dennis has restored many a venerable building to its original beauty, including several 19th Century gothic-revival structures on the University of Notre Dame campus. But even he was amazed at the colorful granite revealed by restoration cleaning of South Bend's "Copshaholm."
The three-story, 38-room mansion belongs to the Northern Indiana Center for History. But for 72 years, it was home to the family of industrialist J.D. Oliver.
The 1896 Romanesque Queen Ann home was designed by New York architect Charles Alonzo Rich. Copshaholm is the ancient name for Newcastle, Scotland, birthplace to Oliver's father, James Oliver.
It's a popular draw, attracting about 25,000 visitors annually, according to the center's marketing director, Marilyn Thompson.
The mansion's hand-worked red, gray and black granites, carefully culled from the surrounding countryside, were black by 1998 when Ziolkowski was commissioned to restore the exterior.
Copshaholm lived through the coal age, Dennis explained. It had never been cleaned. "You could tell the building was granite," he said. "But that's all you could tell."
Cleaning began in 1999 as Dennis and his crew used Sure Klean® Heavy Duty Restoration Cleaner on a 3-foot high "L"-shaped wall on the north and east sides of the lawn. The inky carbon deposits melted away as workers applied the cleaner with low-pressure sprayers, gave it a brief dwell, then a clean-water pressure rinse at 800-900 psi.
They also tuckpointed the entire wall, and repaired the disintegrating central turret.
"The wall was improperly tuckpointed about 20 years before," Dennis said. We wanted to reestablish the correct joint, but we didn't know what it was.
"Fortunately, the cleaning revealed a few inches of the original joint at grade. So we were able to restore it for the rest of the project."
After cleaning, repair and tuckpointing, Dennis weatherproofed the wall with Sure Klean® Weather Seal Siloxane PD. The penetrating, breathable water repellent keeps water and water-related problems out of masonry for 10 years or more - with no change to masonry appearance or textureThe colorful stones of the wall gave Dennis a hint of what he could expect from the house.
The Ziolkowski crew "cleaned house" in 2000 - about 16,300 feet of exterior, using the same technique as on the wall. The cleaning revealed decorative stonework no one had guessed was there. The walls were trimmed with ornamental patterns. Some elevations boasted circular starburst medallions.
The crew also cleaned the property's granite carriage house, where the history center's offices are located.
"It was like turning on a light," Dennis said. "I've lived in South Bend all my life, so I was glad when the center decided to restore Copshaholm. But even I was amazed at the transformation.
"It's been two years since we restored that exterior," Dennis said. "We're still getting compliments."