Saluda gets $282K estimate for first phase of city hall repairs

Published 4:17 pm Thursday, December 9, 2010

Saluda recently received a $282,230 estimate from John Horton, architect and historic preservation expert of Hendersonville, who was hired to assess the condition of the towns city hall and estimate costs for the first phase of restoring the structure.

The first phase will include restoration of the historic facade and the roof of the building, located on Main Street in downtown Saluda.

Saluda City Council last month gave its approval for a committee to move forward with restoring city hall and the police department building.

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Council in recent months appointed a historic committee that has created a city hall restoration subcommittee. Saluda has earmarked $15,000 in this years budget for work on city hall. The committee plans to raise additional money through grants for the project.

The Saluda City Hall, previously restored in 1986, has suffered from deferred maintenance, said Hortons preliminary conditions assessment and estimate. The conditions of the exterior features and materials are becoming increasingly deteriorated. Continual water infiltration through the roof, masonry and sheet metal has also led to damage on the interior and may also have caused hidden damage to the structural wood framing. The wood storefront exhibits deterioration in several areas which has led to water infiltration into the building interior.

City council has discussed for several years deteriorating conditions at city hall. At one time, council members considered building a new city hall and police department, but residents told city officials they want the city to restore the historic structure rather than constructing a new building.

Constructed between 1897 and 1906, the building is a two-story, brick masonry bearing wall structure.

A wood-framed, three-bay storefront exhibits large glazed openings and transoms typical of late 19th and early 20th century commercial storefronts, says Hortons report. A doorway in the center leads directly to a stairway ascending to the second floor. This doorway is flanked by nearly identical storefront bays with double doors set back in flared recessed entrances.

Horton details many deteroriating conditions of the building, including roof and chimney issues, crumbling brick and rotting wood throughout the building. He gives recommendations as to how the city should make the repairs to retain the buildings historic significance.

All recommendations in this report are made in accordance with the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Historic Preservation Projects and with respect to preserving the historical characteristics that make the building significant, said Hortons report. Prior to proceeding with project design and specification, additional assessment and analysis of the building should be conducted. Assessment would include selective demolition of features to allow for inspection of hidden conditions. Analysis would include a structural engineering study of wood framing and masonry bearing walls.

Horton notes that documentary evidence indicates the sections of swag-patterned sheet metal were originally installed upside down. During the previous restoration in the late-1980s, Hortons report said, these panels were replaced to replicate this original construction error.

Saluda Mayor Fred Baisden said last month a rough estimate for the total project is probably in the $2 million range, although no official estimate has been done.

I dont think we would be willing to take on a $2 million tax increase, Baisden said as he mentioned plans for the committee to seek funding through state and local grants. But if we dont stop the bleeding and stop the building from deteriorating, the building will be worth nothing.