Vernon AME Church

We personally worked with the Pastor of the Vernon AME Church to prepare multiple grants for repairs to take place on the Church that were recently awarded. The purpose of the report was intended to document the current state of the existing interior walls and exterior façade of the historic Vernon AME Church in Tulsa. The report provided an assessment of the existing masonry exterior of the original church and Faith Hall, including an assessment of the historic stain glass windows, roof system and site. The report also provided recommendations for repair, along with preliminary cost estimate once finalized. In addition, our report documented ADA compliance, including adding ramps and new elevator tower. Facility Background: The historic Vernon African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E) Church is located at 311 North Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a district known as Black Wall Street. The facility was initially constructed in 1919. During the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the basement of the church was the only remaining part of the structure left standing and was used as a shelter by many parishioners and the community. The Sunday following the Massacre, worship was held for survivors. Years later, the church was rebuilt between 1925 to 1928, above the original concrete basement and masonry water table. To differentiate between the original 1919 structure and the reconstruction, the brick masonry water table was coated with stucco, painted white and scored to look like large format stone. The structure of the 1928 building is one story above grade, accessible by wooden stairwell, with a balcony on the west end of the sanctuary, and a mezzanine on the east end behind the chancel. This area used to serve as the Pastor’s office and led down to the attached residence, which no longer exists. In 1949, the iconic Vernon A.M.E. exterior light was installed; it has been restored, once in 1995 with the latest restoration occurring in 2019. Our Report Recommendations: A significant part of the water infiltration occurring at the Vernon A.M.E. Church was related to the cracks in the exterior coating and missing mortar in the masonry wall. Water was finding its way along the wall and migrating through the wall into the interior spaces. The best course of action was to seal up the exterior façade prior to repairing interior damage. The exterior needed to be stabilized, with the installation of new sealant at all windows, as well as removing and replacing the existing spalling exterior stucco coating and replacing in kind. NPS Technical Preservation Brief 22: The Preservation and Repair of Historic Stucco shall be utilized to provide guidance during stabilization and repair of the exterior stucco façade. GH2 recommended sounding the existing exterior façade in its entirety, removing the existing coating as much as possible back to historic masonry. Not all the exterior coating may be able to be removed; however, care should be taken to remove as much as possible in order to see the full extent of the cracking behind the exterior coating. GH2 recommended a 100% repoint of the existing masonry and stone corbel on the historic 1919 and 1928 structure. Furthermore, the area on the southeast corner would potentially need to have masonry removed and reinstalled because the façade was heaving and appeared to be moving. We also recommended the historic mortar be tested to determine the strength of the mortar for the repoint.

PROJECT FACTS

Location

Tulsa, OK

Size

1000 sqft

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