Creating Enduring Beauty Through Brick and Stone Masonry
Endurance through decades and centuries is the measure of true masonry.
Known as one of the oldest trades in human history, masonry is just as much an architectural achievement as it is an art form. In fact, many of the world’s most significant buildings were built with masonry, as its beauty, versatility and durability are classic elements known to withstand the test of time. Masonry is also the most environmentally-friendly building system, and its construction requires less insulation. Structures comprised of masonry have been known to last for hundreds, often thousands, of years. In a sense, a true mason can be compared to a sculptor, as a mason is one who genuinely sees the art in the material and through unique skill and craftsmanship can bring that art to life. In fact, one of the most celebrated aspects of masonry is its unique design versatility.
But what exactly is masonry? Masonry is anything constructed of stone, brick or block. It is resistant to mold and fire and can withstand the test of time and weather. It also limits moisture penetration. This makes it the highest quality building choice. Because each brick and block is laid by hand, it requires a skilled craftsman to install the product, and the craftsmen are known for understanding a variety of patterns, textures and colors to create a beautiful finished product. Essentially, masonry experts think with their hands.
Photo by Matthew Anderson
The experts at Bell Masonry are no exception to this rule. The company was founded in September 2017, but Matt Bell, the CEO of the Company, is a fifth-generation mason and the Bell family has delivered quality masonry work in the Kansas City area for well over 100 years.
To that point, the work of the Bell family can be seen all over Kansas City, and one can barely pass a street corner without seeing their touch on a bank, church, restaurant or other commercial structure. Recently, the company has seen more demand for their skills in the residential market, especially when it comes to restoring and renovating homes.
“Not only restoring the original beauty of bricks and stones in a residence is a uniquely satisfying endeavor, for both our craftsmen and the owners, but it also increases the value of the residence well in excess of the cost of the restoration. Restored architectural beauty conveys an emotion,” noted Carmine Di Palo, born and raised in Italy, and who is the Chairman of the Board of Bell Masonry and the Managing Partner of Revere Partners, Bell Masonry’s controlling shareholder.
What appeals to Matt Bell about the nature of masonry is the inarguable “wow” factor it affords its audience. And, Bell appreciates not only the inherent beauty in this art form, but also the structural longevity it provides. However, Bell asserted most people tend to underestimate the necessity of restorative mason work.
“Exterior masonry renovations and maintenance are just as important to your home as your gutters or your roof,” he noted. “It is an insulator and keeps the pests out. It is not something that is just cosmetic.”
In addition, he believes many are unaware of the versatility in all that can be accomplished through it, including interior and exterior enhancements: archways; cobblestone floors; outdoor patio and landscaping designs; driveways; fireplaces and so much more.
“There is a whole array of things you can do with it,” he stated. “And the longevity of the material is quite amazing”.
Bell is a life-long student of the craft. The first generation of Bell masons in the family honed his skills many decades ago in Ireland. Each generation since has continued the family tradition within this artful discipline. Bell’s father Don, under which Matt observed and learned an appreciable amount of the industry from the time he was a young boy, also had his own masonry company until 2011. Although his son stands at the helm of Bell Masonry today, Don still keeps his hand in the business by providing estimating work, as well as acting as a general foreman.
“He helps me on a daily basis with a different set of eyes,” expressed Bell.
Photo by Kevin Ashley Photography
With solid corporate backing, highly unusual for many construction companies, Bell is continuously investing in quality, training, and safety. Bell is quick to point out that, together with its customers, its people are the key factor of success for his company.
“As CEO, my daily focus is on delivering outstanding masonry work to our customers and on leading the company as a partnership with our employees, making sure that they are safe. Our people are the reason why the quality of our product is both high and consistent: there is no replacement for experience in a craft like masonry. And a dozen of our sixteen skilled tradesmen have worked with my dad or me for over fifteen years. The cumulated experience and expertise they bring with them every day on the construction sites are simply not as readily available in a market where skilled masons are fast approaching retirement age,” he expressed.
One of Bell Masonry’s most noted current projects is the complete restoration of a stately home near 55th and Ward Parkway that has more than 100 years of stories to tell (as shown in the photo on the left). The current residents embarked on substantial interior and exterior renovation efforts for the home, and the Bell Masonry craftsmen have worked tirelessly to restore its unique exterior to all of its former glory.
Photo by Kevin Ashley Photography
“The entire home is made of stone. Our work not only has restored the original beauty but also prepared the home to better withstand the next 100 years from a functional point of view,” noted Bell.
Additional work completed on this home included a new rear double door with a six-foot opening; a new retaining wall that is shared with the neighbor; and miscellaneous tuck pointing throughout the home.
“The chimneys were in need of some TLC, and we also got the stone and mortar back in good condition,” stated Bell. “We essentially provided a really good overhaul to the home’s exterior.”
“Bell Masonry can undertake all masonry-related projects, whether small or large, whether related to a new house or to renovation. As you drive through town, you will see our signs in larger houses’ and in smaller houses’ yards, and also on several commercial buildings,” concluded Bell. “We can do it all! After all, we have been masons for generations.”