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Historic preservation group hires architect for Turnhalle repairs

September 16, 2013


Leaders of a local historic preservation group say work soon will begin on $125,000 worth of repairs to a historic building that recently was partially condemned, forcing the closure of a longtime art studio.

Leaders of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance said they have hired the Lawrence-based architecture firm of Dunfield Design to begin the needed design work to repair the Turnhalle building at 900 Rhode Island St.

City inspectors last month declared the basement portion of the building unfit for habitation because water infiltration had caused a mold problem in the basement. That city ruling forced Free State Glass, which had its studios in the basement, to halt operations. The business is still shut down.

"If weather doesn't end up being a factor, we would hope to have work done by January, but, to be safe, we're estimating early spring," said Dennis Brown, chairman of the Lawrence Preservation Alliance.

The architecture firm, headed by former Lawrence City Commissioner David Dunfield, will be responsible for designing and overseeing work to fix water infiltration. The $125,000 project will include a new roof, guttering, downspouts, sealing of door and window openings, replacement of failed sections of foundation walls and correction of at-grade drainage.

The pending work, however, doesn't clear up the future for Free State Glass. The nearly 30-year old Lawrence business is still not operational, said Dick Rector, an owner of the business. He said the business has been looking for other locations in the city, but it has been difficult to assess how much his business' equipment has been damaged by the water infiltration at Turnhalle. The business' equipment remains in the basement of the building.

"I've been advised to not spend any significant amount of time down there because of the mold," Rector said. "I'm really just waiting to see how much of my equipment has been destroyed."

Brown said LPA is eager for work to begin on the repairs. The Lawrence Preservation Alliance last year purchased the Turnhalle building, which was built in 1869 and used to serve as the center for the city's once-thriving German-American community. Brown said the LPA purchased the building because it was deteriorating rapidly. LPA has spent much of the last year raising funds to make the planned repairs.

The repairs are slated to be paid for through a $125,000 natural and cultural heritage program grant from the Douglas County Commission. A general contractor for the work is expected to be hired in the next 30 days. Construction work likely will begin in November, Brown said.


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