The intent of these guidelines as they pertain to masonry is to preserve the historic appearance and to prevent
accelerated deterioration of masonry construction. Modern techniques and materials used in masonry work
today are damaging to the softer materials found in historic brick. Refer to the Newburyport Historical
Commission’s ADVISORY TO CONTRACTORS AND HOMEOWNERS ON MASONRY for further information
on acceptable methods of cleaning and pointing historic brick.
Use mortar compatible with historic masonry. DO NOT repoint a historic soft mortar with mortar
containing primarily Portland cement. Mortar with Portland cement sets too hard and will cause the
historic masonry to deteriorate.
Clean only when it is necessary to halt deterioration and always with the gentlest method possible, such
as low pressure water and soft natural bristle brushes.
DO NOT SANDBLAST MASONRY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
It is recommended to submit cleaning specifications to the Historical Commission for review prior
to commencement of the work.
Retain and repair historic chimneys, even if an interior fireplace is to be removed, because chimneys are
an important architectural feature. The height and original or later historic pattern of decorative
brickwork on chimneys shall be maintained.
Do not paint unpainted masonry unless historical evidence proves otherwise.
Repair or replace deteriorated historic materials, where necessary, with new materials that duplicate the
old as closely as possible. Match carefully the replacement bricks’ size, color, and composition to the
Retain whenever possible without the application of any surface treatment. Sealants, waterproofing, or
water repellent coatings should be avoided at all cost unless they have been proven not to block the masonry’s water
vapor permeability, or to contribute to its long-term deterioration.
Incompatible mortar can destroy historic masonry units by creating spalling. The spalling exposes
the softer interior brick and allows for deterioration