Deconstruction of Mapp-Gilmore building is almost complete

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The building which housed the Mapp-Gilmmore funeral home was constructed in 1905. It will be reconstructed anew over the course of this year. Photo by J. Walker

The building which housed the Mapp-Gilmmore funeral home was constructed in 1905. It will be reconstructed anew over the course of this year. Photo by J. Walker

By Tia Lynn Lecorchick, staff writer

The Mapp-Gilmore Building, formerly a funeral home in downtown Madison located at 200 W. Washington Street, is currently undergoing deconstruction in order to be completely rebuilt over the course of the next year.

“Reconstructing this building means a piece of that history will be here forever. That is why reproducing the exact appearance of the historic building constructed in 1905 is so important to us,” explained Kathi Russell, owner of the building.

“It is so nice to work in a community like Madison that is receptive to making sure the history of the building is retained,” said Russell.

The Historic Preservation Commission approved owner Kathi Russell’s plan to deconstruct the historic building on the condition that all usable vintage bricks from the building be saved and used in the reconstruction of the new building.

Russell promised in her plan to use all the salvaged bricks in the same place they originally were located in the building’s reconstruction. She also said outside of the building would maintain its historic appearance following reconstruction.

Russell decided to wait until after the holidays ended before having the bulk of the building torn down. “Deconstruction was held off until after the Christmas shopping season,” said Preservation Planner Ken Kocher.

“That way, it wouldn’t be a distraction for all the shoppers downtown.” Although Russell awaited until after the Christmas season, the demolishment is still two weeks ahead of schedule, said Russel.

“We are extremely please with the progress we’ve made,” said Russell. As of now, all the bricks have been removed and the second floor is already gone, said Kocher.

But not all the bricks that have been removed are being saved. According to Kocher, some of the bricks near the top of the building were not saved because they had been replaced over the years and were not historic.

“There is no reason for these brick to be retained because they are modern,” explained Kocher. So far, 25 pallets of historic bricks have been collected, with approximately 500 bricks per pallet, to be reused in the reconstruction of Merchants Hall.

Russell also plans to transform the historic sheathing boards into mantles for the reconstructed building. In a previous interview with the Morgan County Citizen, Russell estimated that 26,000 of the building’s 40,000 bricks are salvageable, and that the remaining bricks needed for reconstruction would be fashioned to match the originals.

There is not a set date scheduled as of yet for completion of the reconstruction, but Kocher noted the project’s Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) will eventually expire.

“The COA is good for one year, but they could get an extension on that, so there is definitely some flexibility as far as a timeline goes,” explained Kocher. “I will be so happy if I could host the Merchants Hall Christmas Dinner next Christmas in the reconstructed building,” said Russell. “Hopefully, the building will be finished by then.”

Russell is proud of this project and hopeful of the outcome. “Merchants Hall will become another polished jewel in the crown of Madison,” said Russell.

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