If you are involved in historic preservation, you need to know Simon Leverett. It’s likely you already do. Simon is one of only a handful of people in the U.S. doing historic masonry consulting and training. He’s one of the few masonry specialists who is passing on tried and true, old-fashioned techniques.
I first met Simon two years ago when I was researching local business, Henry Frerk Sons. Part of their Restoration Services team, Simon had guided me through their historic property and opened my eyes to the world of masonry restoration.
Simon is a stonemason with 35 years of international experience. He started his masonry career in the UK and became a journeyman mason, working on buildings as old as the 11th century. He was trained in the Guild of London and became a master mason after ten years. Now he has launched his consultancy, Leverett Masonry Consulting, here in Chicago.
Recently I caught up with Simon to learn more about his work. His office is delightfully filled with historic architectural fragments, including an original finial from the Wrigley Building facade, with pride of place on the floor. The large office also doubles as a classroom, with desks and a large flat screen.
One of the things I find so impressive about Simon is that he possesses this rare and important knowledge, but he is passionate about sharing it.
Simon is in great demand these days because he brings together deep technical knowledge, a gift for teaching and training, and 35 years of hands-on experience. He works for a wide variety of clients (architects, homeowners, contractors, etc.) and conducts training far and wide. Simon is a great believer in collaboration and his affable personality makes him fantastic to work with.
As a consultant, he specializes in identifying the issues with historic masonry: how to preserve, restore, and solve problems. He conducts detailed inspections then creates condition reports for property owners, itemizing what needs to be done and which materials to use. He provides assistance with contractor selection. Simon is focused on the highest quality and ensures things are done historically correctly.
Once issues are identified, Simon trains the contractors who will be doing the work. He trains onsite, often creating a mock-up for workers to emulate. He is passionate about classroom training, as well. Simon believes the best way to teach crews correct techniques is to give them “the why” of what they will be doing. His colorful presentations, sense of humor, and laid-back style are keys to his training success.
He has created a historic masonry workshop series with topics including stone repair, lime mortar, historic brickwork, terra cotta restoration, and masonry cleaning. He is a guest lecturer at UW-Milwaukee’s Historic Preservation Department and has presented for Women in Restoration and Engineering (WiRE) and the Chicago Architecture Biennial.
Simon has worked on some landmark buildings in the Chicago area, including the Fisher Building, Emil Bach House, Unity Temple, and Shedd Aquarium. But his list of previous projects includes many more buildings throughout North America and abroad. Simon Leverett’s expertise is in high demand today and he will go wherever there is a historic masonry need.
Many thanks to Simon for sharing his story with me.
You may reach Simon at: