GREENFIELD — People may not have noticed the gradual darkening of the limestone on the McClain High School and Greenfield Middle School buildings, but staff members noticed it and called someone in to show them what cleaned stone would look like.
The darkening of the limestone is due to fungi and other environmental factors, and as it is getting cleaned it is easy to see the years peeled away as the light-colored stone is revealed.
Greenfield Schools Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Pence initially called in Steve King and his restoration company to repair and reseal all the tuck points and windows between the old gym and the auditorium. While they were there, Pence asked them about the limestone.
A couple test spots were done and the results were shown to the administration. Those results were astonishing. The company started cleaning all the limestone a couple weeks ago.
King said restoration is his passion, so he was excited to have the chance to refresh all of the limestone on the high school and middle school. He has done restoration work for about 30 years on all sorts of historic structures and actually performed the restorative work to the stone at the Greenfield First Presbyterian Church last year.
For the most part, King’s crews have first been working on the bottom of the high school and middle school buildings, first working on everything that can be reached from the ground.
The stone is moistened first, then a fungicide is applied. Following that is the cleaning of the stone. The type of cleanser is determined depending on the severity of the darkening and the cut and surface of the stone, King said. After the bottom of the buildings’ cleanings are complete King’s crews will start bringing in the equipment to help them get to everything else.
Whatever work he performs to a historic structure, he said he believes it shouldn’t look like any work was done at all. “It should look like it belongs, like you weren’t even there,” King said.
While King is from the Jackson area, his mother graduated from McClain High School, so he grew up hearing about the more than 100-year-old school. In addition to that connection, King said he loves history and preserving old buildings is what he loves to do.
“We appreciate the work of Mr. King and his team,” Greenfield Superintendent Quincey Gray said. “Not only are they providing a fresh look that the buildings deserve, but he and his team show the utmost respect for our facilities. Their finished work will undoubtedly be amazing.”
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village Schools.