Collums Construction Team gets St. Anna’s on the Straight and Level!
When Father Terry and the Sister’s of St. Anna’s asked Collums
Construction to help them restore their 1840’s house attached to the church, the request excited and challenged us.
Initially, they wanted us to re-shore the large two story house which was noticeably out of level in every room on both floors. One staff member in the building had a chair that rolled her right into her desk! Max Mendoza, our Operations Manager using a laser level, recorded the level of both floors and used the data to determine where the structure had failed and why.
It was clear much was soil settlement, some was structural deficiencies and some was poor maintenance. Structural problems created by termites or wood rot had to be repaired before we attempted to return the structure to its original level condition.
The poor maintenance included an old addition attached to an out of level house. The addition floor, installed level at the time, had to be removed to reveal the original floor underneath. Using strategically placed hydraulic jacks, we reversed the settlement effects and returned the structure to its original level condition.
One day during the re-shoring process, Bryon Cornelison, HCC’s Project Manager received a frantic phone call! “I think you should come over here quick!” Father Terry phoned, “I think the house is coming down!” After so many years of being out of level, the sheetrock had been fitted to the house and, of course, several large cracks appeared in the remuddled areas around door casings and corners, all of which was shocking to the Father and the Sisters! Bryon, however was very excited, “look the floors are level! This chair is no longer forced to roll into the desk!” noting the second floor office with the previously severe floor drop.
Upon final reattachment to the church and foundation, the stately house–attributed to Henry Howard–took on a new feeling of strength and firmness! In addition to the new firm foundation, the house received rebuilt balconies, repaired and replaced windows and doors and a fresh coat of bright Banana Cream yellow Sherwin-Williams paint.
Ironically, the church had utilized the resources of Christmas in October volunteers in the late 1990’s to make minor repairs and paint the house in Renwick Beige. Bryon Cornelison was a volunteer with Christmas in October then and later became the Director at CIO which became Rebuilding Together at The Preservation Resource Center.
It was exciting for Bryon to work on the same project in two different capacities 10 years apart. He was especially happy to know his work had reversed over 160 years of deterioration and had given a historic New Orleans building a new lease on life.