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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Local Chimney Sweep/Mason Wins National Masonry Awards

Kansas City chimney sweep Gene Padgitt, V.P. of HearthMasters, Inc. won first place in the 2012 Masonry Design/Building Contest and second place in the Fireplace Face Contest sponsored by the National Chimney Sweep Guild.  Gene received the awards at the annual NCSG convention on February 14, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. The winning entry for the masonry category was for reconstruction of five chimneys at an 1880 Queen Anne Victorian home owned by Kent Dicus in Kansas City, Missouri.

Since the top portions of the chimneys were missing due to exposure to weather and the homeowner wanted to restore the chimneys to their original appearance, Gene copied photos taken of the home in 1920 and was able to replicate each of the chimneys using the photos provided by the homeowner.  The chimneys were in poor shape, so the HearthMasters crew tore each one down and rebuilt them in their original style with 1880's Little Reds bricks found at a brickyard in central Missouri. 

Padgitt said that "Historic chimneys are very different than modern chimneys.  They are usually very decorative, with small butter joints between the bricks rather than the wider joints used today. This allows the mason to do very intricate work. The lime mortar is much harder than modern mortar, and sometimes it takes months to find original era bricks."  The red clay bricks used during the late 1900's were very hard and last a very long time.  The method to reconstruct a Victorian chimney requires marking each brick and laying out a pattern to follow for each course.  It is quite time-consuming and the price to reconstruct them is much higher than modern chimneys. 

Gene Padgitt at work
In addition to the exterior chimneys, Padgitt and his crew installed eight new flue liners as required by code into the previously unlined flues, and restored the interior fireplaces.  The project took several months to complete.  Gene is a 30-year veteran mason who started his business as a one-man chimney sweeping company in 1982.  HearthMasters, Inc. now employs eight people and specializes in large historic projects, masonry heaters and commercial and residential wood-fired brick ovens. 

Gene is active in the Midwest Chimney Safety Council and is a regular instructor for masonry projects. He has won numerous awards over the years for his specialty work.  He and his wife, Marge Padgitt, who is the President of the company, are currently working on two books and several instructional films for chimney and masonry professionals to be released later this year. 

Kent Dicus has fully restored the home to Victorian style.  He is co-author of the new book Pendleton Heights: Then and Now which includes his home on Garfield Avenue. The book is available at

1880 Queen Anne chimney
(one of five)
Gene's second place trophy was for a fireplace face project completed for Mr. and Mrs. Rodney Christmas in Trimble, Missouri. Lightning damaged the chimney and two-sided heat circulating fireplace so everything had to be removed and reconstructed.  The two facial walls and chimney were constructed with man-made stone in a different style to go with the vaulted ceiling.

Padgitt now has 12 awards for his masonry craftsmanship skills.  He is currently working on an instructional film series for professionals and a book with wife Marge Padgitt called Wood-Fired Heating and Cooking.  


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    In 1803, it was thought by some that a mechanical brush could replace a climbing boy (the Human brush), and members of the 1796 society formed The London Society for the Superseding the Necessity for Employing Climbing Boys. They ascertained that children had now cleaned flues as small as 7in by 7in, and promoted a competition for a mechanical brush. The prize was claimed by George Smart, for what in effect, was a brush head on a long segmented cane, made rigid by an adjustable cord that passed though the canes.
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  2. About that matter hmmm! Historic chimneys are far different from a modern chimney. From its chimney services to its decorative details. However, I'll go for modern chimney, and my kids loves to warm their body while looking with the state of the art modern chimney bricks and stones.

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