While I was at the 10th North American Masonry Conference in St. Louis this summer, I was impressed by the spirit and enthusiasm that our young professionals have in restoring and preserving masonry around the world. Folks like Ece Erdogmus, Thomas Boothby, and Valentina Cristini offered great presentations on their efforts to save some of the world's masonry treasures.
I made a promise to Professors Erdogmus and Boothby to try and find a way in which to involve our readers in their efforts. I'm still working on this promise.
I'm convinced that many of us would like to find a way to help save historic structures. And in some ways, I think many of us would even like to find a way to personally participate in these efforts.
I think I have found the answer. I've been impressed by the efforts of the Heritage Conservation Network (HCN), based in Boulder, Colo. Led by Judith Broeker, the group is dedicated to the conservation of architectural heritage around the world. In a very short time, it has developed a network of experts, volunteers, and community members who are saving structures, one building at a time.
I'm planning to work closer with Broeker in the next few months in an effort to save more historic masonry structures in the U.S. and around the world. I'm particularly interested in one project scheduled for next year. HCN has scheduled a workshop in Armenia where participants will assist with the preservation and repair of a historic masonry residence that suffered serious damage during the 1988 earthquake.
Broeker tells me that in Armenia the need is unbelievably huge. The project is not just about heritage conservation, but providing livable housing. "We have chosen one structure to work on, but if we have enough volunteers, supplies, and funds, we could have teams at several houses," said Broeker. I'm sure I'll have more to report on this project in the next few months.
In the meantime, I urge you to check out the HCN Web site at www.heritageconservation.net. If travel to Armenia doesn't fit your plans, they have other opportunities.