John Wathne, P.E.

John Wathne


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Mr. Wathne has a wide range of structural analysis and design experience related to historic building restoration and renovation, and considerable bridge experience. He has experience in nearly all types of existing structures with an emphasis on construction built before or during the nineteenth century. He has hands-on experience with masonry restoration and post and beam timber framing and significant inspection, analysis, and design experience with concrete, terra-cotta, brick, stone, timber, and iron and early low carbon steel structures in archaic as well as modern-day applications. He is experienced in the restoration and repair of totally preserved structures as well as the adaptive re-use of partially preserved and abandoned structures.

Mr. Wathne also has rare training and frequent practical experience in macroscopic and microscopic identification of wood species as well as timber investigation to identify defects and causes of biological attack, using visual inspection, microscopy and resistance-drilling.

Mr. Wathne is an expert in the evaluation of historic masonry and the design and specification of mortars for historic structures. He is the prime author of the new ASTM standard for mortar for historic structures’ “properties” section, having devised the proposed “standard state” method of comparison for mortars of differing binder constituents on which much of the new ASTM standard will be based.

He is also a pioneer in the development of thermal prestressing for the reinforcement of existing steel structures under load (Modern Steel Construction, Feb. 1996), and has recently completed and presented his research on the subject of historical physical property test data for Natural Cement (April 1, 2005, Rosendale, NY) at the first North American Natural Cement Conference.


1983 BSCE Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA

Sample Projects

Trinity College, Hartford, CT- Extensive emergency stabilization of failing stone-fronted dormer gables in three nineteenth century structures. Project finished ahead of schedule and on budget. Granary Burying Ground, Kings Chapel Burying Ground, Boston, MA- Evaluation and restoration of historic grave markers and tombs, and reconstruction of collapsed subsurface brick burial vaults using suspended shields (to protect remains) and historically compatible masonry materials and techniques.

Saint Marie’s Church, Manchester, NH- Investigation, analysis and restoration of gothic revival tower masonry following delamination and partial collapse of its external brick wythe. Work included reconstruction of external wythe (as an adapted wept cavity veneer where appropriate), flashing repairs, and pinning and restoration of marble trim. Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, Concord, MA- Structural repairs to historic museum and former Alcott residence funded by Save America’s Treasures. Project included extensive timber repairs, chimney and foundation wall underpinning, and suspension of entire rear half of house during construction of new foundation while it remained open as museum.

Pine Street Inn Tower, Boston, MA- Restoration, stabilization and partial reconstruction of 160-foot Tuscan campanile that was hose tower in former Boston Fire Department headquarters. Project included removal of differentially strained, bonded yellow brick veneer and replacement with new matching yellow veneer brick supported outside a new 100-foot tall, 1″-thick steel frame hidden within a wept cavity. Also included was the total reconstruction of the corbelled, machicolated rampart and lantern as an accurate replication of the original, internally reinforced for seismic compliance.

Saint Mary’s Church, Newport, RI- Historic masonry restoration of an historic Portland brownstone church which was the site of John F. Kennedy’s wedding. Project included excavation and reconstruction of shifted buttresses and projecting tower masonry elements, restoration and lime grout injection of brick and stone “back-up”, Cintec pinning, and installation of internal, temperature-compensating galvanized steel post-tensioning frames to counter unresolved horizontal thrusts within flared portion of tower.

Sakonnet Light, Off Little Compton, RI- Inspection and evaluation of historic cast iron off-shore lighthouse. Modern Theater, Boston, MA- Inspection, evaluation, monitoring and emergency structural stabilization of Boston’s first movie-house following 20-year abandonment and extensive damage to structural framing and exterior masonry. Initial monitoring inspections of unsafe structure performed via this firm’s own camera-rover prior to establishment of stable floor conditions.

Staple Bend Tunnel / Allegheny Portage Railway National Historic Site, Cresson, PA- Project included abutment repairs and restoration of 20″ thick sandstone liner of first railway tunnel in the Americas. Traditional pointing and project-specific deep jetting and grouting techniques (developed by our office) were used in a phased manner that prevented shifting of the unshored, gravity-loaded liner during the work, while achieving better than 90% consolidation with a fluidifed formulation of a lime and cement mortar.

Shirley-Eustis Carriage House, Boston, MA- Disassembly of former carriage house on Isabella Stewart Gardner Estate in Brookline and restoration, repair and re-assembly on site of Shirley-Eustis House in Boston using engineered, age-appropriate timber repair and joinery details.


Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island


American Society of Testing and Materials, Committee C12.03.3 Association for Preservation Technology Preservation Massachusetts Boston Preservation Alliance Historic Salem Inc. (55 year old arch. pres. society, President ’95-’97). American Railway Engineering Association Code Advisory Comm. #12 ’95-’97.