Larry Pitman has been a mason for 44 years. Ever since he watched some masons at work waaay back when he was a mere lad (18 years old) and thought it looked like a good trade. He was encouraged by the idea of “working outside in the sunshine,” not realizing that as likely as not, he’d be outside in crummy weather or inside in less than ideal circumstances.
But today is sunny with a light breeze wafting through the surrounding trees, so he’s content to be plying his trade on this landmark brick building in the borough of Doylestown.
Larry’s colleague Dennis Matter has a different mason’s story to tell, which we shall mention only briefly here. Something about a photographer taking a shot of him that appeared on the front page of the local paper and why Dennis now wears suspenders on the job.
As other crews remove the replacement double-paned, double-hung windows from an earlier renovation, Dennis and Larry, two Ernst masons are among those hard at work preparing the damaged, deteriorating or resized window openings at 127 East State using brick salvaged on site.
The former Moose Home’s architect, Oscar Martin, was known for his windows. He frequently made design statements with the windows alone, varying sizes, types, architectural embellishments and placement in a single building. And so this structure had rectangular and arched windows around the first floor, a row of casements above the front entrance and tall rectangles along the sides of the second story. All the windows will be replaced with multi-light, energy-efficient wooden casement windows clad in black-finished aluminum on the exterior to restore the appearance of the original cast-iron casements Martin specified.
All, that is, except one. Ernst will not replace, but will restore the especially lovely large palladian cast-iron window that looks out from the stairs’ middle landing at the west side of the building. A treasure for the new owners, their guests and borough pedestrians to admire.
Knowing what to salvage and what to replace takes a keen awareness of the balance between cost and aesthetics, value and history.
After the windows are replaced, interior work is expected to move quickly as Ernst Brothers set themselves to creating two luxury flats. Look for updates as the inside begins to develop.