By John and Allison Abdelnour
“One of the important concepts underlying the South Main Style is the goal of achieving an indigenous architectural character. A character that is intensely rooted in its place, that looks like it belongs here,” says South Main Director of Design, Kenny Craft. He goes on by saying, “One of the most direct ways that this goal is achieved is by using the local ‘river rock’ or ‘moraine rock’ that is extremely abundant in the soil that underlies South Main.”
Visiting South Main these days, you will very quickly observe many rather striking instances of masonry built out of our local river rock. “By using the local stone, directly from the site, the architecture is inherently local. With foundations, chimneys, porch piers, and garden walls made of local stone, the houses and buildings appear to grow from the site and are grounded with a sense of permanence and longevity. The stone gives a raw and rugged natural beauty that connects the architecture to the landscape.”
The appearance of the stonework in South Main is quite different from what one might be used to seeing in more contemporary river rock masonry settings. The work is similar to masonry built a hundred years ago in Buena Vista or Salida of. “There are some important principles that…. result in a truly authentic appearance. Stones are laid in a horizontal orientation with the narrow side facing out, which is how load bearing stone walls are always built,” Kenny says.
“Building with stone is an age-old tradition that has been done skillfully and artfully for millennia. As with many things in modern times, much of the knowledge, skill, and craftsmanship of previous generations has been lost or forgotten,” says Kenny. Buena Vista and South Main are very fortunate to have a talented stone mason here locally who has the skill to build this beautiful stonework. Brad Pranger, a Colorado native, who has been living in the area for 7 years, has built the majority of the masonry work that adorns South Main. Brad learned masonry by working for his father starting in the early 1970’s. He started his own business in 1986 and has been building his skill as a mason ever since.
“At South Main, with the help of Brad Pranger we are raising the standards in authenticity, artfulness, and craft. Brad’s skill and attention to detail result not only in a high quality appearance, but extend into the realm of artistry. Each individual stone is carefully placed like a jig-saw puzzle that fits perfectly, but also contributes to a balanced composition that demands appreciation,” says Kenny.
When asked what he loves most about his job, Brad replies, “I like to see something that I have built that adds character to a project. Masonry lasts for years.”
He also said, “Learning skills in masonry takes time – years of experience make a big difference. Consistency in appearance is a good marker. Clean work is a sign of much practice.”
This consistency and clean work is obvious in South Main.
“Brad’s skill and craft combined with his application of time honored principles of stone laying result in a timeless authenticity that provides a solid foundation for the architecture of South Main.”
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