Western Specialty Contractors earns Good Brick Awards for Houston restoration projects

Historic structures are being demolished every day across the country to make way for modern, new developments and buildings. While often a challenging endeavor, sometimes all it takes is a good brick, an experienced specialty contractor and a dedicated preservationist to save these important relics from the bulldozer.

In Houston, Texas, efforts are being made by Preservation Houston to save many of the city’s historic structures. Western Specialty Contractors – Houston Branch was recently honored by the association with a pair of Good Brick Awards in the Institutional Category for its exceptional efforts to restore the facades of Houston’s oldest fire station and a 1940s Gothic-style church in Woodland Heights.

Preservation Houston has presented the Good Brick Awards since 1979 to recognize outstanding contributions to the preservation, restoration and enhancement of Houston’s architectural and cultural heritage.

Award recipients are selected annually by a jury of community leaders, preservation and design professionals and previous award winners. The 2024 recipients, including Western’s Houston Branch for restoration of Fire House Station No. 7 and St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, were honored at a March 8 dinner at River Oaks Country Club.

“We are so honored to have received a pair of Good Brick awards from Preservation Houston for our efforts to restore these historic and important structures of the community,” said Western’s Houston Branch Manager Brian Dolezal. “It’s nice to be recognized for our historic restoration skills and expertise.”

Restoring Fire Station No. 7 (The Houston Fire Museum)

Western was tasked with restoring the exterior of downtown Houston’s Romanesque-style Fire Station No. 7 opened in 1899 at 2403 Milam Street. The fire station remained active until 1969 when a replacement was built. It currently houses the Houston Fire Museum.

Western’s scope of work on the project included:

  • Demo/removal of exterior stucco to expose the original brick façade
  • Replacing 10,000 broken bricks with salvaged bricks from the early 1900s
  • Tuckpointing all exterior brick joints at exterior masonry
  • Rebuilding brick window heads and installing stainless steel rods for strength
  • Installing 4,000 stainless steel helical rods to strengthen the brick parapet wall
  • Repairing brick and tuckpointing brick joints at interior masonry
  • Cleaning the exterior brick with low pressure water and mild detergents

Project team: REPRACTICE, Tellepsen Builders, BMP Group.

Restoring St. Mark’s United Methodist Church

Completed in 1940 at 600 Pecore Street, the gothic-style St. Mark’s United Methodist Church is located in the historic Woodland Heights neighborhood. Western was tasked with restoring the historic sanctuary’s cast stone masonry and limestone exterior.

Western’s scope of work included:

  • Cleaning exterior cast stone masonry and limestone with low pressure water and mild detergents
  • Repairing spalled/damaged cast stone and limestone
  • Tuckpointing exterior cast stone and limestone joints where needed
  • Rebuilding two limestone columns and the sanctuary entrance
  • Replacing the damaged original cross with a new cast stone cross
  • Applying a clear water repellent to all exterior masonry

Project team: Merriman Holt Powell Architects, W.S. Bellows Construction, CJG Engineers, W.W. Bartlett, Inc.