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Message to the Future
Putnam Mayor Barney Seney shows the message he wrote on the last brick at the Municipal Complex.  Seney installed the brick afterwards. Bruce Dexter III, owner/president of Dexter Masonry, is on the scaffold behind him. More photos on page 4. Linda Lemmon photo.

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top:  Mayor Seney put the last brick in place and then joked to Bruce Dexter III, owner/president of Dexter Masonry, that he needed to straighten the brick.

From left: Dexter Masonry owner/president, Bruce Dexter III; Elliott Hayden from Ellis Tech; Putnam Mayor Barney Seney holding the trowel he used. It will be engraved and given to the Aspinock Historical Society; Ryan Blackmar, foreman (created the brick designs); and Todd Dexter, executive vice president at Dexter Masonry/Local 1 Connecticut Bricklayers Union.

 By Linda Lemmon
Town Crier Editor
PUTNAM — For the Municipal Complex it had been like the “spring of perseverance.”
When the first ceremonial brick was to be placed Mayor Barney Seney was fighting COVID-19 and Building Committee Chair Karen Osbrey did the honors. It was at the beginning of January; cold and challenging. The entire complex was wrapped in thick plastic so the 12 to 15 bricklayers from local firm Dexter Masonry could use heaters to allow them to lay bricks. They started with the brickwork around the larger Town Hall portion of the complex and then, recently, moved on the one-story library.
Three and a half months later, April 19, the mayor placed the project’s last brick at the corner of the library.
Seney wrote a message to future generations on the inside surface of the last brick: “Thank you to the citizens of Putnam for making this possible. 2021” and he signed “Barney Mayor” in the bottom corner.
Bruce Dexter III, owner/president of Dexter Masonry, showed the mayor how to “butter” the brick with mortar and the mayor snugged the brick into place. Then he joked that Dexter could step in and straighten it.
Perseverance handled the challenge of a difficult brickwork design. Ryan Blackmar, Dexter foreman and the man behind the brickwork design, said the difficulty factor of the design was a “10 out of 10.” The library design is a running soldier bond, but it’s vertical, making it especially difficult. The mortar joints have to be extraordinarily straight. They were taking an ordinary horizontal design and turning it 90 degrees. Blackmar said a 64-year-old mason working on the project and in that worker’s 50 years of brick laying, he had never done that type of design before.
Black bricks cover the bottom of the library section and the red bricks cover the top section, with black vertical three-dimensional “dashes.” The Town Hall portion of the building sports a horizontal red brick field and a different “dots and dashes” design of black bricks on the gables. Black bricks surround the main entrance section of the building.
Dexter folks and the mayor cleaned off the trowel and it will be engraved and given to the Aspinock Historical Society as a keepsake of the event.
In keeping with the intense effort to keep every part of the $19-plus million project local, the trowel will be engraved by a local firm. “From Dexter Masonry to the citizens of Putnam THANK YOU” “Putnam Municipal” And April 19, 2021 engraved on the back.
Dexter said that his crew, 90 percent of them who graduated from Harvard Ellis Tech, did the spray-on air vapor barrier and caulking, all the brickwork, the precast sills (under) and precast lintels (above) the windows, the cement block elevator shaft already. They will finish by washing down the brickwork, doing punch list items and removing the scaffolding.


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