Preserving Historic Infrastructure
Sometimes it's the little things which make a huge difference to the feel of a historic neighborhood. All of the elements of the streetscape working together define the character of a district. In St. Joseph, we are lucky to have a relatively large number of brick sidewalks (only a few brick streets unfortunately) and our historic stone walls and curbs need appropriate care and concern.
If your property has a brick sidewalk there is routine maintenance needed to keep it in good shape and looking stunning.
- Sweeping: sometimes it’s the simplest thing which can make a huge difference. Gentle sweeping to remove debris and dust can go a long way toward preserving the bricks in your sidewalk.
- Pack the cracks: Make sure the joints, the spaces between the bricks, are filled with sand. Masonry sand is your best bet for this. Keeping the joints filled with sand will ensure the stability of the pavers and will also help keep the pesky weeds at bay.
- If you are using water on the sidewalk avoid spraying directly on the joints. A direct spray of water can wash away the sand or mortar in the joints and accelerate the process of decay.
- Keep the sidewalk free of dirt and weeds. If your brick sidewalk has been covered by accumulated dirt and vegetation, remove the layer of dirt carefully to avoid damaging the pavers.
- Do not apply a commercial sealant to the pavers. Contrary to what the manufacturers will tell you, a sealant will not increase the longevity of the paver. In fact, the sealant will trap in moisture and accelerate the deterioration of the paver.
- The best way to remove weeds is pulling them by hand, granted this a long and tedious process. If you need some additional help, using chlorine bleach and hot water, one part bleach to 10 parts water, is effective.
Brick Streets and Stone Curbs
Maintenance of our brick streets is the responsibility of the city's street maintenance division. You can do your part to help by keeping the street and curb free of debris, removing weed growth and reporting any significant issues to the condition of the street to the Public Works and Transportation Department.
St. Joseph’s historic stone retaining walls are a treasure we take for granted. Like our sidewalks they do need maintenance to keep them in good shape. For more information, view the Care and Maintenance for Stone Walls (PDF).
- Inspection: Keep an eye on your stone wall. Check for cracks and loose stones. It is much easier and cheaper to fix it if you catch the problem early.
- Get expert help: repairing an historic stone wall is not like repairing a retaining wall made from pre-fab bricks from your local home improvement center. If you spot real problems with your stone wall call one of the specialized masons who work in the city. If you need names of appropriate contractors, call the historic preservation planner's office.