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Lafayette College – Rinek Rope Works Exterior Renovation

The former Rinek Cordage Company’s factory buildings in Easton, PA, which were in a state of disrepair, were purchased by Lafayette College in 2016. The Wohlsen team was hired in 2022 to revitalize the buildings for use by various college departments. The renovation project included exterior upgrades, new roofing systems, new windows and doors, masonry repointing and upgrades, parking lot paving and striping, a new trash compactor area, and restoration of the non-functional water tower. The team also ensured the structural integrity of the buildings, with each structure being analyzed individually for the most cost-effective renovation options. The Rinek Cordage Company, founded by Jacob Rinek in 1840, played a significant role in Easton, PA, history and aviation history, and this renovation project helped preserve this piece of history.


Lafayette College


General Contractor


Easton, PA






Janurary 2023

Your team shared our appreciation for the history of these buildings and continued that same care throughout the project.

Meghan Madeira, Partner at Aegis Property Group

Creating New Space from Old

Located on Bushkill Drive in Easton, PA, the former Rinek Cordage Company’s factory buildings were sitting vacant, waiting for a new owner. Founded by Jacob Rinek in 1840, the factory remained in operation for over a century before being sold in 1970. After the sale, the four buildings on the property started to deteriorate and fall into various stages of disrepair. Lafayette College purchased the property in 2016 with the aim of creating a home for programs that engage and benefit the local community. The Wohlsen team was brought on in 2022 to work with the College on revitalizing the buildings so the College could utilize them. The team completed various exterior renovations to help develop the space for the Lafayette College Grounds Department, Easton EMS, and the Lafayette Engineering Department’s use.

From Disrepair to Refreshed

Wohlsen provided general construction services for the exterior renovation of four historic and abandoned buildings home to the Rinek Cordage Company. Partially funded by RACP, the project scope included exterior upgrades, new roofing systems, new windows and doors, masonry repointing and upgrades, parking lot paving and striping, a new trash compactor area, and restoration of the non-functional water tower. The Wohlsen team began the project by removing the existing slate roof from all four buildings and replacing them with asphalt shingles. They then completed extensive brickwork that involved cutting new openings into the existing buildings, masonry repointing, and additional brick infills. Once this was achieved, they painted all the buildings grey and installed new exterior lighting. Doors, windows, and overhead doors were also upgraded and replaced. A couple of paces from the existing buildings, the team constructed a new retaining wall to accommodate recycling and trash compactors. The existing non-functional water tower was restored and painted in Lafayette’s signature colors, with their logo added prominently to the face. This provides an excellent branding moment for the College as it is visible from the top of the hill along Route 22.

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An Individualized Approach

The Rinek Rope Factory property contained four total buildings, each in various stages of disrepair after sitting vacant for numerous years. Upon award of the contract, the Wohlsen team actively worked with the architect, client, and engineer to develop the most optimal approach to each building. Each building was analyzed to see what needed to be replaced completely versus what could be salvaged or repaired. One example of this individualized approach was ensuring the structural integrity of the buildings. The Wohlsen team reviewed each building with a structural engineer to determine the most cost-effective options. These options ranged from salvaging the original floor joists to complete replacement, depending on the state of the building. In one of the buildings, the team determined that they could ensure the structural integrity of the building by adding star bolts to the roofing structure to provide additional strength and extending the roof trusses with a custom metal angle piece to ensure enough barring on each exterior wall. These individualized plans helped the team make sure that they were able to complete the project in the most cost-effective, safe, and high-quality manner possible for Lafayette College. 

Preserving a Piece of History

Founded by Jacob Rinek in 1840, the Rinek Cordage Company played a significant role in Easton, PA history and aviation history. Ropes produced by the company were used in the nearby coal mines and worldwide, from pulling towboats on the Lehigh and Delaware Canals, constructing bridges in New York City, and even building the Panama Canal. The Rineks were also good friends with Thomas Edison, who frequently visited the area to visit the family. Together with Edison, the Rinek family installed electricity and trolleys in Easton. Lafayette’s historical records indicate that the property is also significant to aviation history. Not long after the Wright brothers’ plane, Norvin Rinek, the grandson of the rope company founder, was the first to use lightweight chrome-moly steel tubing in an airplane frame instead of wood. His plane was disassembled and stored in the rafters of the buildings until it was discovered roughly 60 years later. It was important for both the Lafayette College and Wohlsen teams that the buildings be preserved, therefore protecting the local history of the property.

Key Partners

Lafayette College
Aegis Property Group
ALMA Architecture LLC
Lehigh Valley Engineering
Larsen & Landis

Project Features

Exterior Upgrades
New Roofing Systems
Masonry Repointing and Upgrades
Parking Lot Paving and Striping
New Trash Compactor Area
Water Tower Restoration


Award of Merit - Eastern PA Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors

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