or Immediate Release
The Richard Henry Lee Chapter (RHLC) of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution (VASSAR) held a luncheon meeting at the Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club on 10 May. The Chapter President, Michael Rhodes, presided.
After welcoming all guests to include members’ wives, DAR members and the President of the Norfolk SAR Chapter, Robert Bruce, Rhodes presented a membership certificate to Macon Edwards of Weems to honor his five years of faithful service to the Chapter. Next, he introduced the speaker for the meeting: Robert Teagle, Executive Director, Foundation for Historic Christ Church in Weems.
In the introduction, Rhodes observed this would be the third time that Teagle has spoken to the Chapter. He further mentioned that Teagle earned a B.A. in History from the College of William and Mary and a M.A. in American History from Virginia Tech.
Teagle opened his presentation by stating he was honored to speak to an organization that worked to preserve history and promote the ideals of democracy. Teagle then announced his topic for the day: “Rising Damp and Archaeology at Historic Christ Church.” He noted he has worked at Christ Church for twenty-two years. During that time one of his primary jobs has been to preserve the church, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961
The church pre-dated the American Revolution. In 1670, the first church erected on the site was a wooden building. In 1730, Robert Carter the son of John Carter who had constructed the wooden church, decided a more prominent church should be erected. With approval from the vestry of Christ Church Parish, he then funded the construction of a brick building on the same site.
In the 20TH century several individuals and groups have undertaken preservation projects at the site. But until now none of these projects addressed the issue of “rising damp.”
Rising damp, Teagle explained, is the process by which ground water moves vertically and horizontally into building materials like brick, mortar, stone, woodwork and plaster by capillary action and rises in these materials before being evaporated. Over time, rising damp has caused serious damage to Christ Church’s renowned architectural elements: brickwork, stone trim, plaster and interior woodwork.
Previous efforts to mitigate rising damp did not address the cause of the problem. A brick splash installed around the building in 1967 did little and was removed three decades later. Over the years, the Foundation has repointed brickwork and repaired interior plaster, but by not tackling the fundamental problem of managing stormwater, rising damp has continued unabated, increasingly threatening Christ Church’s unique historic fabric.
Teagle showed photographs that documented the damage rising damp has inflicted on Christ Church over three centuries. Images from the early 20th century to the present showed evidence of moisture damage to the brick walls, stone elements, interior plaster and paneling.
After studying the issue for several years, the Foundation has begun work to install a stormwater drainage system. The project involves carefully digging a trench around the building to the depth sufficient to collect and pipe water away from the structure and then restoring the surface, so it looks like nothing is there.
Teagle then asked Compatriot Wally Dawson a Chapter member and, also a retired engineer who chairs the rising damp committee volunteers at Christ Church if he could comment on the ongoing work. Dawson, calling attention to NFL football game, remarked that when you see the field remain relatively dry during a rainstorm, it is because they are using the same technique as now being installed at Christ Church to drain away surface water.
Teagle invited the community to learn more about the project by visiting the church as evacuations continue this summer.
The next meeting of RHLC will be another luncheon meeting at ICYCC on 14 June (National Flag Day). The speaker for the meeting will be Mark Favazza, regional director of the YMCA. The Chapter is also planning an event to celebrate Flag Day. If you are interested in learning more aout RHLC contact President Rhodes 1-804-929-1444 or mail email@example.com.
1. Photo Teagle showed that demonstrated damage to bricks by rising damp
2. Photo Teagle showed that showed interior damage by rising damp