We’ve been thinking about a new building around here for a while… Please answer the 5 easy questions in our survey to help us move forward!
What would happen to the historical building you are in?
Excellent question! The buildings that currently house archives, collections, and the exhibits are an interesting mish-mash of the first and third buildings of the 1st Presbyterian Church. The limestone church was built in 1879 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And it’s beautiful. We plan to renovate the church for use as an exhibit and/or event space. Both the stone church and the brick church have crumbling mortar between the stones and the brick. In 2017, we had a study done to estimate the cost of replacing the mortar, which is called repointing. The total for both buildings was a little over $350,000, just to fix the mortar. Because of so many repairs and replacements needed to keep the brick church going (complete HVAC system, plumbing problems, upgrading electrical, repair water damage, etc.), we feel it’s a better investment to build a new structure that will have enough room to house everything we own and give us room to grow. The brick building would likely come down once everything usable had been removed.
What would happen to the current building? I believe it is a historic building, it would be interesting to know it’s fate.
Amy, you are correct that the stone church is on the National Register of Historic Places. We don’t want to hurt that building in any way! The brick portion was built between 1922 and 1926, and is neo-classic architecture. Neo-classicism was very popular in the early 1900s, and can be seen in many old Carnegie Libraries throughout Kansas. Because this architectural style isn’t unique and does not reflect a particular building style in our area; and because the poor old girl is falling apart, we will most likely raze the brick building. We will salvage as much as we can, whether we incorporate it in our new structure or invite a reclamation business to salvage it.
Please also read my response to Dawn above.
If a new building is truly needed because the old one isn’t cost effective to maintain, yes, move to a new location. I like seeing history in historical buildings. It would be hard to move your limestone church and Volga German house to new locations and extremely sad to lose them. The volga German house is typical of plains dwellings of its era a long with the soddies and homes dug into a hillside or bank. This is the only stone one I have seen. Most were wooden structures, cabins.
Lori, you think like we do! In addition to what I’ve explained above, there are additional concerns to our current situation. Neither of the main buildings (stone church and brick church) are accessible for folks with mobility issues. We can’t get a wheelchair in the brick building unless it’s carried in. We currently rent two large off-site storage locations because we are overflowing with objects, photos, and documents. The mortar on both buildings is crumbling. The north and south walls of the brick building turn into waterfalls during heavy rainstorms, which is pushing the plaster off the interior and causing ceilings to sag.
If you drive by our building on 7th Street, just past the Volga German Haus is a two-story grey residence. We own that and the empty space all the way to Fort Street, north of the alley. The residence is not used for anything, and we would LOVE someone to buy (at a very reasonable price) and move it to a new location to save the house. If not, it will be demolished and salvaged to make more room for the new building. As lovely as the residence is, it has the same problem the brick church does–no handicapped accessibility. It also has lots of large windows and tight corners, which make it less than ideal for artifact storage.
So, since we have a good chunk of open land, we will not change locations. We’ll still be on 7th, just on the corner of Fort rather than Main. The Volga German Haus will stay exactly where it is, and so will the stone church. A little more about the VG Haus: it was constructed on site in 1983 with help from the Volga German Society. Local Volga Germans (Willie Pfeifer, Norbert Dreiling, Leo Dorzweiler) researched the design of the German Russian houses in our area and designed the Haus. The stone was taken from the ruins of a few different original houses in the county. There are no more original stone homes standing in Ellis County. Ours is a very good replica, and is built on the inside like a modern building, with insulation and drywall. It is also heated and cooled so that the original 1880s artifacts inside are kept stable. If you haven’t been inside, come by ECHS any time Tues-Sat, 11am-5pm and we’ll take you on a tour!
I received the survey form in the mail and was told to come here to take the survey online, but I can’t find the survey on line.
I support the idea of a new building, and will talk to friends about it, but I have no funds to offer.
I am a charter member and an honorary life member and am very much interested in Ellis County history. It was great to see the latest Homesteader actually contain some history.
Fr. Burkey, it’s wonderful to hear from you! I’ve heard many good things and am familiar with your research.
The location of the survey link is on this page above the comments, but below the photo. In red letters, it says “Click here to take the Survey.” Don’t worry about contributing financially. We need all kinds of support to make this project happen, and we’re happy to have yours.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.