Structural Stabilization, Restoration, Life Safety and Accessibility Improvements at Merion Meetinghouse

  • 18 Oct 2011
  • 5:45 PM - 7:45 PM
  • Merion Friends Meetinghouse, 615 Montgomery Avenue Merion Station, PA 19066-1216

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The Merion Friends Meetinghouse, constructed 1695 to 1715 is an early and unusual example of a Quaker meetinghouse design, and is a National Historic Landmark. John Milner Architects and consulting engineers performed a Conditions Assessment of all aspects of the building including the stone foundation, plastered masonry walls, wood windows and doors (exterior envelope), timber-framed floor and roof structures and mechanical and electrical systems. The resulting Historic Preservation Plan contains a prioritized list of restoration and repair recommendations with construction budget values assigned to each work item, as calculated by a contractor on the project team.

Two phases of the Preservation Plan have been completed: First-Structural repairs to reinforce the white-oak, hand-hewn timber crucks in the attic; Secondly-Porch reconstruction for barrier free access, exterior doors and woodwork restoration, chimney reconstruction, improved site drainage, upgraded lighting and new emergency lighting systems, incorporated in the most sensitive means possible.

The site is accessible by SEPTA bus and there is adequate parking at the adjacent Activities Building at 615 Montgomery Avenue, then walk through the cemetery to the meetinghouse.

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Speaker’s Bios:

Daniel Campbell, AIA, Project Architect: 

Dan is a registered architect with over twenty five years of experience in architecture and historic preservation.  He has directed projects through all phases of the architectural process including surveys, measured drawings, code analysis, condition assessment, restoration design, adaptive re-use design, construction documentation, bidding and contract administration.

As a project architect and project manager, he specializes in the preservation, restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings, design of sensitive additions and modifications to historic buildings for accessibility and code compliance, and the design of new residences in traditional styles. Dan has led teams of professionals in execution of condition assessments, and restoration documentation for projects at nationally significant historic buildings and for new construction projects, many with award winning and published results.

Jonathan Price, PE, LEED AP, Structural Engineer for Keast and Hood:

Jonathan has a BS in Architectural Engineering from the University of Colorado and an MS in Civil Engineering from Drexel University. With 33 years of structural engineering experience, he served as the Associate-in-Charge of the structural portions of the Merion meeting restoration. Jon is an adjunct professor of structural engineering at Philadelphia University, and a member of the Delaware Valley Association of Structural Engineers (DVASE).

Suzanne M. Pentz, Heritage Engineering Consultant and Structural Historian:

Suzanne is a nationally recognized expert in engineering assessment, analysis and diagnostics for historic structures and archaic materials. Trained in both structural engineering and historic preservation, Suzanne is an active urban spelunker who is equally comfortable climbing with contractors in muddy foundation pits and sharing her expertise through speaking engagements to sophisticated audiences. Suzanne is particularly well-known for her expertise with historic timber structures, steeples, and trusses. She pioneered the collaboration of wood pathologists from the field of forestry with structural engineers to create a new standard methodology for assessment of historic heavy timber structures. She is currently a member of the Architectural Committee, advisory to the Philadelphia Historical Commission. Formerly, she was the Director of Historic Structures for Keast & Hood Co. Structural Engineers.

Ross Lance Mitchell, Merion Friends Meeting:

Ross L. Mitchell started his career as a painter and studied at the Barnes Foundation. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Violette de Mazia Foundation, an arts education institution that teaches aesthetic appreciation. Mr. Mitchell previously served Executive Director of Laurel Hill Cemetery and the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia where he repositioned the cemetery into a heritage tourism destination. For seven years he was the Gallery Director at the Barnes Foundation in Merion Station where he led the thirteen million dollar renovation of the gallery.

Mr. Mitchell was also Senior Associate for Viart Corporation, a Manhattan based art-consulting firm. He is a board member of the Lower Merion Historical Society and the Philadelphia Sketch Club and also serves on the Lower Merion Historical Commission.  As a member of the Merion Friends Meeting, he was the client liaison for the preservation efforts at the 1695 meetinghouse.