When we say we support brick-and-mortar businesses, we thought we’d be literal. Here is a small sampling of masonry and construction companies located within the boundaries of Kingston, all helping keep the infrastructure of Main Street in sound shape:
Windsor Masonry, located at 5 Sharon Lane in Uptown Kingston, has a unique niche: renovation of old buildings using a traditional lime mortar that’s very similar to the original, locally made lime used two hundreds ago. Imported from France, the hydraulic lime, as it is called, is a “self-healing” material, meaning that when it develops a crack, the crack automatically fills up, according to Keith Boyd, who founded the company ten years ago. “Before 1870 people built with lime,” he said. “A lot of masons today use cement mortar to repair these buildings, which doesn’t hold up; they have to be repointed with lime. We’re one of the few upstate companies that do this.” One example of a local building with deteriorating mortar due to cement repointing is the Senate House, he said.
Boyd learned his trade in his native England, where he bought and renovated houses before immigrating to the states a decade ago, after meeting and marrying his American wife. He restored an old brick coach house on St. James Street, although Boyd’s business normally takes him far afield from Kingston: projects include a church in Catskill, a farm in Hyde Park, and several buildings in Westchester County. “The challenge Kingston faces is it doesn’t have enough employment,” he said. Finding employees for this specialized trade is also difficult, which requires “a four-year apprenticeship. It’s physically demanding and you’ve got to have an artistic flair.” Boyd currently has one worker.
Re-creating and restoring a historic building using authentic materials is also expensive. Hydraulic lime costs roughly five times the price of Portland cement. “Very few local people who own houses can afford the renovation cost,” he said. “It’s why I go all over the Northeast.”
LaTorre Construction Company, located near the railroad trestle over the Rondout Creek at 7 Dewitt St., has been in business 38 years, building custom homes as well as high-end and historical renovation work, along with some commercial construction. The company has a large brick warehouse and shop at 117 Broadway, in the Rondout. Owner John LaTorre said its clients are within a 50-mile radius of Kingston, with a lot of work across the river, where many people live in older homes and “want to keep their house historically correct.” He said high-end customer renovation “has been keeping us going” during the economic downturn.
“We enjoy being in Kingston and enjoy the people,” LaTorre said. “I wish we had a little more industry around here,” such as existed 100 years ago. Now, with none of that manufacturing left, “you’ve got to be a history buff” to live in the area. (phone number: 845-338-4982)
Also based in the Rondout is Kizer Stonework, which specializes in dry-laid bluestone sidewalks, patios, walls, walkways and steps, according to owner Gary Kizer. located in Kingston for last 9 years. We’re primarily bluestone specialists, we have expertise dry-laid bluestones, sidewalks, patios, walls, walkways and steps. “Some people are interested in maintaining a local heritage,” he said. “A lot of clients want us to design unique spaces using stone, in keeping with that tradition.”
Kizer, who founded the company nine years ago and works out of his home, gets his material from various local stoneyards. He has “one and a half employees.” Last year was “horrible” for business, but in 2010 “things are picking up quite nicely,” he said. Kiser said he learned his trade from his grandfather, a stone mason who hired him in the summers when he was growing up. (phone number: 845-338-9180)
James McGowan & Son Masonry Inc. located at 5 Railroad Ave., in Midtown, does large-scale masonry construction projects for municipalities, government agencies, hospitals, and commercial companies, including the Walgreens in Kingston Plaza, the medical facility building for Benedictine Hospital, and the Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union. Founded in 1992, the company hires as many as 40 workers depending on the work load. Brick and stone veneer, concrete masonry, glass and clay brick, marble, limestone, granite and precast concrete are among the specialties listed on its website, www.mcgowanmasonry.com