(12/9) The old, former apartment building attached to the side of the
current Vigilant Volunteer Fire Company firehouse bay must be demolished
because of decrepit structural elements and crumbling bricks.
Original plans called for simply renovating the 29 West Main Street
structure, but as work progressed on upgrading Vigilant headquarters, the old
building was deemed unsalvageable, and construction crews began demolition
during the first half of November.
Once beyond that unexpected hurdle, the fire company still plans on
completing the $1.5 million overhaul and expansion of the headquarters during
the summer of 2007.
Early in 2005, Vigilant announced plans to refurbish a neighboring, former
apartment building to house emergency staff, provide administrative quarters
and serve as temporary housing for residents left homeless by fires.
Project Architect Michael Proffitt stated that the proposed expansion would
increase the present structure by about 820 square feet, and would involve
refurbishing much of the original structure, including dealing with a bulging
outer wall on the School Lane side.
He said the historic façade would be
maintained, but new stairs, an elevator and sprinklers would be added to bring
the structure into compliance with safety standards.
As further evaluation of the old building progressed during 2006, the
planned overhaul got ugly.
John Damskey, vice president of the fire company and chair of the buildings
committee, recently told The Dispatch, "We started out two and a half years ago
thinking we could remodel (the apartment building)," but have since been
advised "not to do it."
He confirmed that the fire company would be demolishing the structure
completely. He said it had been determined that the building had serious
structural problems, including a wall bulging out towards School Lane, and that
it would be a "better deal to demolish it" than to attempt to save it.
Saving the front façade, as was
originally proposed, became hopeless after it was learned that the bricks were
crumbling. Damskey said, "We thought we could save the front wall, but we ran
into soft brick," and as a result of that discovery, the façade
will have to come down as well.
The fire company vice president stated that an effort will be made to
rebuild it "as close to how it looked" before it was demolished.
The up side of the bad news is that the demolition will permit the creation
of a basement large enough to provide a recreational and exercise area for
The remaining plans for use of the overhauled building remain little
changed. An elevator will be installed, as well as staircases. The first floor
of the new structure will serve as offices, with the second floor serving as
the "bunk" area. The new attic when completed will be used for storage.
Damskey said, "We're hoping for the project to be completed during the
summer 2007," but that it also dependent on what work can be accomplished
during the winter.
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