Masons restore beauty of Main Street building

Published 12:36 am Tuesday, February 5, 2008

NATCHEZ — At the corner of Main and Canal streets an aspect of time is being renewed with the antique grace it was first given.

Scattered about in a 50 foot scaffold on the of Canal Street side of the Molasses Flats building, three brick masons have been working diligently for the past couple of months digging between the 200-plus year old bricks, inspecting them for cracks, flipping them to expose the fresh side if needed and discarding those which can no longer take the stresses of the Mississippi climate and replacing them with new ones, or tuck pointing as it is known.

The four-man crew, including the gentleman that hangs out below and keeps a fresh batch of mortar on hand, form KL Jones Masonry.

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“We want to keep it as original as possible,” said 38- year veteran brick mason Kenneth Jones as he sat on the second level of the scaffolding, chipping away the old lime mortar that holds the bricks together and replacing it with a fresh sand colored paste that will dry and take on a light gray like the original filling.

The mortar, a mixture of lime and cement, is the same recipe used hundreds of years ago Jones said.

“We’ve done many of the old buildings at Alcorn, and a lot of stucco work in New Orleans, but I’d rather do landscape masonry, fountains, walls, stuff like that,” Jones said. “But this isn’t bad, I’ll say the hardest part is keeping the dust out your eyes.”