HPC reviews designs for Mapp-Gilmore Building
By Stephanie Johns
A plan to raze a building in the historic district of Madison and replace it with a replica met with resistance when presented to the Madison Historic Preservation Commission (HPC).
Kathi Russell of the Madison Tea Room & Garden presented designs for a conceptual review. She said she wanted to improve the neglected building, which she said was one of the most unattractive buildings in Madison.
On her application to the HPC Russell wrote, “Our plan is to raze the building located at 200 Washington, and rebuild in the same architectural style, and integrity, original to this site. Allowing for ADA compliance, only minor changes are planned, with approval of the HPC.”
ADA refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Commissioner Joseph Smith noted the crux of the matter as HPC sees it.
“Simulation is not the same as a historic building,” he said. “’Looks’ versus ‘is’ historic.”
Commissioner Richard Simpson added that reconstructions “never” come out right.
HPC Consultant Ken Kocher said it will be “a difficult sell” to raze the building.
Russell shared photographs and plans for redoing the building at 200 W. Washington St., commonly referred to as the Mapp-Gilmore Building.
She said the bricks on the front of the building need to be removed because they are unstable. Russell would like to use original openings, which she said her designs did. She said the roof needs to come off as the rafters are burned and the roof leaks and causes water damage.
Commissioner Joseph Smith said the bricks are in “fabulous condition” and could be reused. It is the mortar that is unstable.
Kocher noted that the commission looks at the necessity of removing original materials.
“It’s preferable to keep the brick in place, if possible,” he said. “If that’s not possible, clean and reuse it. If that’s not possible, use new brick of the same size.”
Russell’s designs showed a gabled roof. Simpson said changes to the roof should not impact the historic quality of the roof.
“This would change the character of the building,” he said, noting that the building was “a pretty simple commercial structure.”
HPC Chair Marti Jessup said that the roof line in Russell’s plans “more than likely” would not pass.
Russell shared a letter written by Morgan County Planning Director Chuck Jarrell in which Jarrell detailed his concerns about the structural integrity of the buildings.
A report prepared by consulting structural engineer Rex Pless of Bennett & Pless, Inc. in Atlanta also noted “considerable structural damage through all levels and portions of the building.” The report concluded, “In the present condition, this building is not satisfactory for occupancy by any tenant.”
Another letter, this one written by Curtis J. Whitsel of Whitsel Construction Services, Inc. in Danielsville, stated that “not enough is known about this building at this time to condemn it to demolition without further study.”
Russell said she wants to do this project right.
“We will do nothing before we do something wrong,” she said.
Printed in the December 27, 2012 edition