The Palace Portal Hits the Bricks

HenryTrujillo2Who knew an expanse of stained and rumpled bricks could evoke history. Or that smoothing out their rumples would require such careful work.

Steve Baca and Henry Trujillo (pictured, at left) of the History Museum’s facilities staff are learning that and more as they improve the Palace Portal’s brick walkway.

“It has big humps in it from people walking on it over the years,” Baca said. “Everything’s pushing back toward the building. We’re leveling it off so water runs off toward the street instead of toward the building.”

That’s critically important for an adobe building that was recently named a National Treasure. Should the Palace’s adobe walls wick up standing water, they could suffer grievous damage. But the bricks are considered historic, so the fix required careful work.

Baca and Trujillo block off a section at a time, pull up the bricks, and clean each one. They add new sand, level it, then replace the bricks. Not enough bricks are worth replacing, so the museum negotiated replacements from a stash that once bedecked city streets—and are keeping their eyes open for other possibilities.

“I hope it’s only a month to do the whole portal,” Baca said. “But it looks like longer.”

As for what’s fun about that hard work? “Nothing,” he said, laughing.