The First Congregational Church of Braintree is a masonry bearing wall structure with ashlar granite exterior and cast stone accents with a slate roof. The church was built in 1912 and substantially renovated in 1964 after a disastrous fire. For the last 35 years the building has experienced leaks through the tower walls, but the congregation was unable to spend money on the necessary repairs.
CBI performed numerous investigations on the building and determined that the majority of the leaks were due to the construction of the masonry walls.
Water is absorbed through the mortar joints and cannot easily escape because of the impervious granite stones. Eventually, the wall became saturated. This deterioration, resulting from freeze/thaw cycling, became so extreme that CBI recommended that sections of the tower be removed for safety reasons. CBI recommended stopgap repairs to the masonry, which included cutting and pointing of all masonry joints to provide a soft mortar that would allow water to escape the system and the application of a clear sealer that would keep water from penetrating, yet, allow the wall to dry out. These measures over the years, at a cost of over $250,000 could not prevent the total loss of the tower in 2000. After a five year fundraising effort, $177,000 was used to remove the tower stub to below the roof line. CBI designed a slate covered double gable roof solution that eliminated the water problem for all time.
Additionally, CBI was engaged over the years to assess handicapped accessibility within the building. As a result, a new wheelchair lift was installed to provide handicapped access, as well as several ramps. Interior spaces were retrofitted for handicapped accessibility and to repair water damage from the leaks.