Thursday, March 2, 2005

Restoration progressing

Staff Writer

The pace is picking up on the restoration of the Marshall County Historical Museum now that deteriorated portions of the back and side walls and supplanting foundation blocks are in place to stabilize the building, according to Bill Kivelle, a county consultant.

When work is completed on this phase of the project the building should be good for another 100 years, he said.

“We have had good support from the county, the architect and the engineers,” he said. “There is so much that has to be done before you can even take it apart.”

What Kivelle meant was that temporary supporting walls had to be built to stabilize the building before the deteriorating outside walls could be removed, new foundation blocks set and floor joists repaired. Most of the work on the 100-year-old building is not visible from the street. Exterior insulation is mostly up and the building will soon be in the dry, he said.

Other things are being built in so that future improvements can be made to the structure, according to Larry Hall, county administrator.

All three floors have outside doorways on the back of the structure so that when funds for an elevator are available, one can be added to make the building accessible for those who cannot take the stairs.

“We will have a foundation for a mechanical room and elevator pit and heat and air,” Hall said.

County workers have been helping provide in-kind work for the project, including demolition and painting that will be done once the interior walls are repaired.

“They are thinking ahead and using funds as wisely as can be, here,” Kivelle said.

He said portions of the back and east walls were never intended to be outside walls. When portions of the building were demolished for progress, the portions of two interior walls became outside ones, he said. These walls had no face brick after the older sections were removed. The exposed red brick sucked up moisture and the mortar and brick softened over the years causing the walls to crack and crumble. Further damage to the building, the edges of the roof and some inside wood, was caused because the enclosed gutters rusted. And termite damage has also to be repaired.

About four feet of the roof will be peeled back and all the deteriorated wood removed and replaced, he said. Rainwater afterward will shed off the roof instead of routing it through gutters.

Kivelle said the county and the city have an obligation to keep historic structures intact.

“You can’t go buy that anywhere,” he said, pointing to historic homes and buildings in downtown. “We’ve got a rich history here and as people of Marshall County, we’ve got to take care of it. Larry Hall is doing a great job with this.”

Kivelle took the history, or lore, a little further to make a point.

“Gen. Grant propped his feet upon the courthouse rail, lit a cigar and took a shot of whiskey,” he said. “If he got tired of one house, he just picked him out another one. Where can you get history like that?”

The restoration of the Marshall County Historical Museum is being paid for with funds from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Grinder Building of Memphis is the general contractor.

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