Western Specialty Restores Monument at National Cemetery

November 21, 2023|

St. Louis, Mo. – Western Specialty Contractors – Houston, TX Branch has completed restoration of the Houston National Cemetery’s iconic hemicycle monument in time for its 2023 Memorial Day ceremony.

The historic cemetery’s focal point and site for all special observances is its horseshoe-shaped hemicycle monument, which also features a chapel, 330-bell carillon tower and speaker’s stand at its center. Houston’s hemicycle is one of only three known hemicycles located in a national cemetery. The others are located at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines.

Houston’s hemicycle, crafted of exposed aggregate precast panels, was showing signs of cracking and spalling. General contractor Decatur Construction, Inc. hired concrete restoration experts Western Specialty Contractors in April 2022 to restore the monument in time for the cemetery’s annual Memorial Day ceremony to be held on May 29, 2023.

“Most likely the joint sealants and water repellants that were installed originally had exceeded their useful life warranty and as a result allowed water intrusion into the precast panels. Thus, rusting began on the internal reinforcement and caused cracking and spalling in the panels,” said Western Branch Project Manager Ryan Danielson.

Western’s scope of work included:

  • Concrete spall repairs
  • Removal and replacement of sealants
  • Cleaning the entire structure

Western used two strategies to prepare the monument’s substrate for waterproofing. First, with a steam cleaner to remove any dirt or mildew that had accumulated over the years, then, when the first method did not produce the desired results, switched to a cold pressure wash with a low PSI and an applied diluted bleach solution to restore the precast to its original appearance.

After thoroughly preparing the substrate, Western’s craftsmen applied a SYSTEM 90-Series sealer from Edison Coatings. The reactive treatment is designed for maximum performance and exterior durability in protection of on-grade and above-grade stone, concrete and masonry. Surfaces treated with SYSTEM 90 products are sealed against a wide range of chemical and weather exposures including acid rain, melting snow, freeze-thaw, air pollutants and wind-driven rain.

Western was able to complete the work in time for the Memorial Day event despite weather delays during the winter months, challenges with matching repairs to the existing substrate, and strict government guidelines on the project.

The monument remained open to visitors for the duration of the project, however Western did install temporary barricades around work areas for pedestrian safety.

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