Every old community has structures that have historical or cultural significance. These pieces of architecture help tell the story of a town or a city – whether it’s as small as railroad fastening nail that helped connect a rural community to a larger township, or as massive as old structures such as farmsteads and churches. However, regardless of their timeless beauty, these aging structures can fall into ruin if not properly inspected on a regular basis.
Mercer County, NJ, one of America’s richest treasure troves of national history, certainly has its share of historic structures – with buildings dating before the American Revolution. These buildings, according to National Register of Historic Places, include the following:
- John Abbott II House, which was used to hide state treasury during American Revolution.
- Henry Clay and Bock & Co. Ltd. Cigar Factory, which is considered as the most architecturally distinctive industrial building in Trenton.
- Trenton Ferry Historic District, an 18th-century mixed-use urban working-class neighborhood primarily composed of modest row houses, schools, churches, and commercial buildings.
- Douglas House, which served as George Washington’s headquarters prior to January 3, 1777, Battle of Princeton.
Sometimes, it takes an ill-fated event to bring light to the dangers these structures can bring if not maintained and repaired immediately. In 2013, an abandoned building collapsed on East State Street near the NJ Transit station. Once part of a row of elegant homes, it was the sole surviving structure, which on its collapse had seriously injured a homeless man sleeping on the porch.
The incident prompted a closer look at other Mercer County landmarks, which revealed ineffective structural inspections that could be another disaster waiting to happen. Those old structures and the new and modern, state-of-the-art medical facilities all need to be inspected by structural engineers.
Aside from historical societies, structural engineers in Mercer County help maintain buildings and reinforce ones in the state of dereliction. Whether it’s a century old gargoyle or 21st-century façade, the expertise of structural engineers can help ensure a thorough and efficient inspection process – which keeps these structures from becoming a danger to anyone who enters or inhabits them.
Each year, structural inspectors from Lockatong Engineering visit numerous historic properties and modern structures across the state of New Jersey. Following our visits, we report the inspection results to the property owners, providing them with insights concerning both major and minor maintenance issues we observed that could immediately threaten the historic character and structural integrity of the building if not addressed.
A maintenance plan is a major output that our structural engineers provide to help historic property owners to manage the routine maintenance tasks that are essential to prolonging the life of the historic structure. Not only does a detailed maintenance plan ensure the preservation of the property’s original historic and character-defining features, but it also prevents major building system failures and provides a safe environment for the occupants.
Here are the major components of a maintenance plan required for preservation of historic buildings:
- Description of distinct features of the building, such as its cornice and roofing.
- Timeline of the property’s construction, alterations, and additions.
- Historic photographs, architectural plans, sketches, drawings, and current photographs that provide additional background information about the building.
- A schedule specifying the periodic inspection and control requirements for a variety of maintenance activities.
- Records of all estimates, contracts, warranties, paint colors, mortar recipes, and anything else related to work at the property.
Overall, structural engineers play a very crucial role in maintaining the integrity and character of the structures that define our national heritage. Contact Lockatong Engineering today for more information about how our Building Inspections & Diagnostics Services work.