Stone compass on mall cracks, will be replaced

Posted: April 27, 2013

The Winchester Star

The inlaid granite in the newly installed compass at Boscawen and Loudoun streets has developed cracks. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — The inlaid granite compass at Loudoun and Boscawen streets is cracking and must be replaced after the 86th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, which began Friday and continues through May 5.

The fissures were evident in four of the eight points on the compass Friday afternoon.

Each point is half gray and half white, and cracks have appeared in both halves of four of the points.

Perry Eisenach, the city’s public services director, believes uneven mortar under the compass probably caused the problem.

“They put mortar underneath that and just didn’t get it level,” he said, “so there was some movement in it when people were driving on it and it cracked.”

The compass was installed as part of the $7.1 million project to replace utility lines under the Loudoun Street Mall and add some above-ground amenities. The mall’s surface also was replaced.

The Boscawen-Loudoun intersection is the only place on the mall on which non-service vehicles are allowed to drive.

HRI Inc., a State College, Pa.-based company with an office in Winchester, is the project’s general contractor, but the paver installation was completed by Hampton-based Westwood Contractors Inc.

Bo Ashby, a retired bricklayer from Stephens City who was on the mall Friday afternoon, said he watched as the compass was laid and feared that it would not hold up because he thought sand was used as its base.

The defects, Ashby said, made the compass appear to be prematurely aged. “It’s a shame. It’s brand-new and it looks like it’s already been there 10 years.”

The mall was built in 1974. It covers about 1,600 feet between Cork and Piccadilly streets.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw