CASE STUDY: Historic Church Preserved For Future Generations

One of New York City's oldest churches is celebrating the completion of a decade of restoration work with help from Kärcher. The Second Presbyterian Church on Manhattan's Upper West Side is re-emerging from years of scaffolding with its historic Gothic-style façade preserved by restorative cleaning experts from the company, which sponsored the project.

During the project Nick Heyden from Kärcher's restorative cleaning team met with students from Alexander Robertson School, which is run by the church and shares facilities, and discussed the importance of preservation and conservation of historical buildings. "Being able to share the story of our restoration work with the children of the Alexander Robertson School is a special treat," commented Heyden. "They are very enthusiastic about our work and seeing their school's appearance change so dramatically."

Bram Lewis, chair of the school committee and an elder of the church said, "We are boundlessly grateful to Kärcher for this sponsorship. It has saved us tens of thousands of dollars; funds that we will now be able to use to support our little gem of a school and its wonderful educational programs. It is such an honor to be recognized by Kärcher and their appreciation for the work that this community has been doing generation after generation to support our school for nearly 230 years is most gratifying."

For 35 years, Kärcher has sponsored philanthropic programs to clean and preserve historic and cultural structures, including national icons such as Mount Rushmore and the Seattle Space Needle. The company's cleaning experts have also partnered with local community leaders on priority preservation projects. Last spring, Kärcher sponsored a project at the historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn to clean 19th-century sculpture, statuary and architecture among the cemetery's monuments and mausoleums.

Each sponsored project requires expert analysis of surface conditions and optimal cleaning methods that won't damage the structures. For the Second Presbyterian Church project, the cleaning process used steam to gently remove the biological growth of bacteria, algae, fungi and lichen utilizing the Kärcher HDS 5.0/30-4S pressure washer. The biological soils residing deeper inside the pores of the stone were destroyed in the process, extending the time it will take for new growth to recolonize on the stone. A hot water pressure was used to gently strip off the lead free paint on the lower portion of the limestone façade without damaging the stone.

For the gentle removal of hard black gypsum crusts, the dark grey layer of emission residues and the paint coatings on the granite surfaces, Kärcher used a low-pressure micro particle blasting method. This allowed cleaning with minimal abrasion to the limestone and granite surfaces.