Ryan and I stand proud on top of the Smith Block building, better known as the home of Calories Restaurant in Saskatoon. This Spring we will receive our third heritage award for our contribution to this project in the category of Rehabilitation. The scope of work we are being awarded for is as follows:
Rehabilitation is defined as the action or processes of making possible a continuing or compatible use of a historic structure, or individual component, while protecting its heritage value.
The limestone you see on Calories Restaurant, and all of our projects are hand carved and fabricated by our talented Stone Carver and Masonry Designer, Ryan Watson. Here he is replicating the Smith Block buildings original keystone from 1912 that weighs approximately 300 lbs.
To the non-Stone Mason eye, most will assume they are looking at cast concrete, not realizing that each piece was hand carved by Watson, a trade that dates back over 800,000 years ago according to Wikipedia. Most of Watson's chisels date back to the early 1900's. Pneumatic hammers (pictured above and below) first came into use in 1880.
NEW and OLD Keystone from 1912
Above is the centre of the three piece 1912 Smith Block sign where Watson is carving with various chisels powered by the pneumatic hammer. The main difference between working with a chisel and mallet versus a chisel powered hammer, is simply the time it will take to complete each project.
With a pneumatic hammer you will produce 100 hits to the stone compared to a mere ten using a mallet and chisel in the same amount of time. If Watson had not used the pneumatic hammer for the 1912 Smith Block sign and entrance pediment (pictured below), time to produce and the cost for his carvings would have been uneconomical. That being said, the pneumatic hammer not only cuts down on time, but also the price tag of our hand carved projects.
It's hard to imagine all the time and talent that goes into Watson's projects unless you see him carving in real time. To see Ryan Watson, Co-Owner at ROCCO MASONS carving in our shop, subscribe to our youtube channel HERE.
In 2015, upon request from the current home owner, Strata Developments asked us to participate in the restoration of this landmark on Saskatchewan Crescent West, a home built in 1910 for Mayor William Hopkins. Since our company specializes in Heritage Restoration, Stone Carving and natural stone fabrication, we were definitely in our element and pleased to know that our unique and quality workmanship was being recognized and requested.
In the fall of 2017 I submitted an application to the City of Saskatoon and Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee Society for our scope of work on this restoration project. I'm excited to announce that Rocco Masons will be receiving a Municipal Heritage Award in the Preservation, Restoration, and Rehabilitation categories at the Honour level on Tuesday, March 13th 2018.
The judges were impressed with our companies quality of work, and commented that the design and material selection are complimentary to the original materials. Myself, Ryan, and our crew are pleased to have been a part of ensuring that this Saskatoon landmark remains as part of Saskatoon's building inventory. For more on the history of The Hopkins residence CLICK HERE.
ROCCO MASONS scope of work included replacing the home's disintegrating concrete stair treads, with Indiana limestone, each tread weighing in at 650 pounds. Indiana limestone was used on the original structure in 1910 for all of the window sills, lintels, and plinth details.
We replaced all cement details including the home's sills, stair treads and capstones with Indiana limestone. We tore down the two brick posts at either side of the staircase, cleaned each brick piece by piece before re-using them to return the posts to their original state. Once the posts were rebuilt, we capped off each post with 1900 pound limestone caps.
We were very pleased when the home owner decided to use our recommendation of limestone for the bases of the home's ionic columns to replace the home's original rotten wooden columns.
And lastly, we laid limestone flooring throughout the patio which starts at the front entrance and wraps around to the back of the home.
This will be Ryan Watson's second Heritage Award in Saskatoon, the first being for the King George Hotel restoration on 2nd Avenue in the heart of Saskatoon. There he hand carved the entryways using Indiana limestone along with installing the buildings entire stone facade. For more on that project CLICK HERE and see pictures below:
To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the University of Saskatchewan’s Great War Commemoration Committee is soliciting donations for the creation and installation of a memorial bench dedicated to the men and women of the campus who served our country from 1914 to 1918.
The Great War exacted a heavy human toll on the University of Saskatchewan. Of the 345 students, faculty and staff who enlisted, 69 "passed out of the sight of man by the path of duty and self-sacrifice." About 100 were wounded. 35 were awarded medals of valour.
This past summer Ryan Watson, ROCCO MASONS Co-Owner, Stone Carver & Masonry Designer was approached by a member of Saskatchewan’s Great War Commemoration Committee. Watson was honored when he was asked to design and carve a limestone bench in memory of those who served our country. He immediately went to work and over the next few weeks, designing what eventually became what you see here. After months of anticipating the possibility of carving Saskatoon's Great War memorial, we were extremely delighted to learn that the project was approved.
Once carved the bench will be installed at the south end of the plaza between the original campus residences. It would have been a place familiar to all who volunteered for duty.
Any and all donations are welcomed with the committee's goal being $20,000. Any funds in excess of that amount will be transferred to the general scholarship fund of the University of Saskatchewan. Donors will receive a charitable donation receipt. For more on the GREAT WAR CLICK HERE and to donate click on the button below.
Part of my role within our company is to apply for Heritage Awards for projects we've completed that we feel meet the criteria of Saskatoon's Heritage Society. The last award Ryan Watson received was for his Design work and Masonry installation on the King George Hotel that includes two hand carved Indiana limestone door surrounds. Next time your at Swank Shoe Lounge or Cupcake Conspiracy, be sure to take a closer look!
This year I had the pleasure of submitting three applications. The first for our work on the historical Hopkins House on Saskatchewan Crescent, our Masonry Design and installation at Broadway Avenue and 11th that now houses freshii, Una Pizza, and Ryde yxe, and a total restoration to Taverna Italian Kitchen & Bar downtown on 21st. Ryan and I hit the streets last week with the board members and were proud and honored to show off our work at these three locations.
Above is the historical Hopkins House that we were asked to be a part of with Strata Developments. Our scope of work included replacing the homes disintegrating concrete stair treads, with Indiana limestone, each tread weighing in at 650 pounds. Indiana limestone was used on the original structure in 1910 for all of the window sills, lintels, and plinth details. We replaced all cement details including the homes sills, stair treads and capstones with Indiana limestone. We tore down the two brick posts at either side of the staircase, cleaned each brick piece by piece before re-using them to return the posts to their original state. Once the posts were rebuilt, we capped off each post with 1900 pound limestone caps.
We were very pleased when the home owner decided to use our recommendation of limestone for the bases of the homes ionic columns to replace the homes original rotten wooden columns. Next, we laid limestone flooring throughout the patio which starts at the front entrance and wraps around to the back of the home.
Above is our project at Broadway Avenue and 11th which was the old McDougall Gauley building.
Our scope of work here included designing, supplying, fabricating and installing eight Indiana limestone pilasters around the buildings facade at street level, with brick above each. The pilaster detail includes a combination of smooth and rock faced textures similar to centuries old masonry architecture style. Each pilaster is capped off with hand fabricated limestone mouldings.
We have designed and hand carved two street signs to be installed in the spring of 2018. One sign will be installed on the pilaster facing 11th street east and the other facing Broadway Avenue. These carvings will accompany two additional hand carved architectural details also installed this spring.
All stone fabrication was traditionally done on site by hand before being installed. Many of these Indiana limestone pieces used to build the pilasters weigh in at 280 pounds each. We also fabricated the moulding returns by hand on site prior to installation.
And last but certainly not least, our restoration to Saskatoon's oldest Italian eatery, Taverna Italian Kitchen & Bar located in the heart of Saskatoon on 21st Street.
Our scope of work included; a brick and limestone combination on the exterior including the following limestone detail; dentils, a greek key motif, rock faced pilaster bases, numerous stone moldings, two hand carved Indiana limestone signs using the traditional tools of the Stone Carving trade. The first hand carved sign is of the name of the building; AGORA with THYRSUS detail below. The second hand carved sign is a date stone; 1907 EST. to pay homage to the year the building was originally built. We also restored the lounge's fireplace to match the exterior as shown below.