Yale’s masons and glaziers: keeping campus beautiful one window and paver at a time

June 21, 2021

Yale’s glaziers and masons are a friendly and talented team. Walk into the lunchroom at 344 Winchester Avenue at mealtime, and they are gently ribbing each other, talking about hobbies, family, and sharing chocolate. When lunch ends, it’s all business. They grab tools, jump into trucks and head out across the campus to work on precious stained-glass windows, tile bathrooms, replace pavers, build stone walls, and so much more.

Guiding this busy crew is Marc Fanelli, Facilities Supervisor, who manages three glaziers, five masons, and two laborers. Yale has hundreds of buildings, dormitories, libraries, formerly private homes, etc. Many are made of brick, were built over 100 years ago, and have one-of-a-kind windows, casements, and handles. Some even have specially made tiles or stone, which is hard to stock or even find. This team of freshman and veterans can be seen across campus in and outside of buildings, trowel or hammer in hand, keeping our university shipshape!

What are the glaziers responsible for?

Glaziers are tasked with cutting, installing, and removing glass of all kinds from windows, doors, displays, and building fronts, among other things. They may also install sashes or moldings for installations and secure them with various fasteners.

Yale glaziers’ work is more specific to the campus buildings’ unique needs. They may repair the many stained-glass windows in Sterling Memorial Library or the residential colleges. Often those decorative windows have an image on the glass. Before it can be repaired, they must trace the image and paint it on glass. Some buildings have small and large leaded and applied-lead glass in metal frames in masonry. These can be challenging to remove and replace; sometimes the frame has to be torched out, refabricated, and replaced along with the glass panes—all this done somewhat delicately.

The larger units can be more complicated to remove, repair, and replace. In older buildings, the surrounding masonry needs to be repaired as well; the whole process, not including ordering sometimes rare-to-find parts, could take several weeks. “Their job is an exact science; measurements have to be perfect to ensure the glass fits. Then they have to delicately install it without any breaks. It is challenging, but they have tons of experience and nerves of steel,” says Marc Fanelli.

The buildings on Old Campus have varying types, sizes, and shapes of  Wilbert Hill, Valintine Moore, & William Good.

windows, making ordering and stocking items difficult. One of the most challenging items to find and fix are the window handles. “For instance, in Branford and Saybrook Colleges, the windows are original circa 1933. The window handles are hard to find and even fabricate. Recently, we’ve had to wait up to six months for some window handles. Our masons are quite skillful in installing an extensive variety of window treatments,” says Marc.

What are the masons responsible for?

A mason uses bricks, concrete blocks, or natural stones to build or fix structures that include walls, walkways, fences, and chimneys. Yale’s masons work on a myriad of surfaces with various materials, including concrete, blacktop, stone, marble, tile, and plaster. Their day can include replastering walls, replacing broken ceramic tiles, fixing stone walls, installing bicycle racks, regrouting showers, repointing brick buildings, or replacing bluestone. They also replace and repair handicap ramps.

A majority of their work is outdoors, and it can be challenging in the heat and cold. When there is damage from a leak, it can be messy for the occupants. Work is coordinated to be least disruptive, but for instance, with plaster, it can take up to five days, including several coats and sanding to complete a job. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused longer lead times for supplies such as brownstone, limestone, and terracotta, to name a few. “The pandemic has had a small silver lining; coordinating and doing work has been easier because many of the buildings were vacant. We got a lot done,” says Marc.

This fall, the team will work on building a new set of brownstone stairs at 91 Trumbull Street. All five masons will be assigned to this unique assignment. Brownstone is hard to find, and the stairs are in great disrepair.

“If you walk around campus, there are probably not many buildings they have not worked on. It’s pretty amazing. I’m quite proud to work with these two teams,” says Marc.

Thanks to the team:

  • Emilio “Nino” Armellino, Mason and Mason Trainer
  • David Cacace, Mason and Mason Trainer
  • Kevin Coleman, Mason and Mason Trainer
  • Rashad Cruthird, Mason
  • Marc Fanelli, Supervisor
  • William Good, Mason
  • Wilbert “Charlie” Hill, Glazier
  • Jamar Iovieno, Laborer
  • Valintine Moore, Laborer
  • Vincent Verderame, Glazier

We heard from a few members:

Rashad Cruthird, Mason has been at Yale almost 6 years. His favorite memory is the day he finished his mason apprenticeship. “It feels good to achieve goals.” After five, he enjoys working with his hands and fixing cars.

Jamar Iovieno, Laborer has been at Yale for 12 years. His favorite memory is his very first day and clocking in to begin work. After five, he enjoys watching movies and playing video games.