St. Stephen Church Historical Renovation
New Orleans

Owner: Good Shepherd Parish/St. Stephen Church
Lead Design Firm: Trapolin-Peer Architects
General Contractor: DonahueFavret Contractors Inc.
Structural Engineer: Heaslip Engineering
MEP Engineer: IMC Consulting Engineers Inc.

Attention to detail and history guided the $5.5-million restoration of the more than 130-year-old St. Stephen Catholic Church in New Orleans.

Built in 1887, St. Stephen has undergone many renovations over the years for retrofits and other reasons. 

The project team was given the task of restoring the church’s historic beauty. It relied on original construction techniques, materials and methods while also upgrading mechanical systems.

The aging structure had termite damage, settlement, wood rot and degeneration in many areas. The original cast-iron columns in the entry area had become unstable over time, and workers discovered the columns had never been mechanically fastened. A shoring company had to raise the entire structure and add new pins to prevent structural failure.

A team of historic masonry specialists oversaw the hand-tuck-pointing of every single brick joint on the church—there are approximately 300,000 bricks—to match the original lime-based mortar.

When workers removed roofing to make way for new slate, shingles and copper, they discovered as many as eight layers of felt and old roofing, and there was no roof decking beneath it. The contractor stripped the roof to the old wood framing and then oversaw installation of 770 sheets of plywood decking to accommodate the new roof.

Throughout construction, workers moved materials, fencing and construction hazards every Saturday so the church could open for Mass every Sunday.

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