Category: Landscaping
Location: Raleigh, NC
Size: 757 sq. ft.
Masonry Used: 18 tons of granite and 7 tons of limestone.
Submitted by: European Stone Masonry LLC

Project Description

A new granite sitting wall and wheelchair ramp were built on the grounds of historic Christ Church in downtown Raleigh. The granite was leftover from the construction of the original sanctuary, finished in 1854, and was discovered 10 years ago during a renovation. It was an exciting find since the stone, known as "Old Wake County", is no longer quarried and nearly impossible to find in large sizes. Great care was taken to match the original stonework in appearance and jointing.

For this project, the protection of a mature oak tree was key to how the wall and ramp were designed and built. They were both installed around an above-ground footing to minimize digging near the tree. The above-ground footing projects only 3" into the ground but has side shelves for the stone to sit on.

There are 3 or 4 places where the concrete footing projects 18" into the ground with a 12" thick cylinder. In Raleigh, winters are mild so the ground doesn't usually freeze below 12". The core of the sitting wall is 10" thick by 22" tall and reinforced with rebar. Instead of regular wall ties, vertical steel channels with adjustable wall ties were used.

The above-ground footing only allowed enough room for 6" thick granite. To match the stonework on the church, corner pieces were sawn out of larger stones, giving the appearance of up to 12" thick corners.

The corners on the wheelchair ramp were chiseled flat to suggest the precise workmanship seen on the church buttresses. Beveled limestone caps, 4" thick and weighing 550 pounds each, sit atop the stone wall and ramp.

Grout was color-matched to the original grout work. All joints were flat-tooled with a line scored down the center to match the joint work on the sanctuary. Finally, recessed lighting was installed along the wall and ramp to illuminate a busy walkway.

Raleigh is known as the "City of Oaks". With an innovative solution for protecting this handsome oak, it continues to remain healthy while shading a school playground.

Project Participants

Structural Engineer: David Fischetti, DCF Engineering, Inc.

  • General Contractor: Don Carothers, Carothers Contracting Company
  • Masonry Contractor: Joe Valles, European Stone Masonry LLC
  • Masonry Consultant: Tom Fisher, Custom Brick
  • Landscape Architect: Frank Liggett, Liggett Design Group
  • Concrete Footing Contractor: Nick Hopkins, Hopco Construction