Fun with Historic Plaster. Or, Unintended Consequences

Hennepin History Museum is located in a beautiful historic building. It’s a very solid building, but it is nearly 100 years old and it does need some maintenance and upgrades. Recently we’ve identified a ceiling that is at immediate risk of falling, and are asking for your help to address it.

First, some background. In 2017, we were awarded a Legacy grant to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the building. We have been working with an architectural team all this year to review the building’s history and condition. When complete, we will be able to use this document to guide decisions relating to the building, including how to best add climate control and how to make our home accessible, as well as the order in which to tackle items such as repairing masonry, replacing plaster, upgrading electricity, and other similar needs. We made a decision to hold off on all but essential repairs until we had the completed report; that way we could address prevention, maintenance, and repairs in a strategic way. In a typical year, pressing emergency repairs include things like electrical work, leaking pipes, and minor roof repairs.

Unfortunately, we are now facing a serious unexpected repair need that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. The plaster ceiling in our basement hallway and work space is in danger of falling down. The cracks had existed for years. In what is a classic case of unintended consequences, however, the heavy increase in foot traffic in the Museum’s main hallway (directly above the downstairs hallway) has escalated the rate of separation of the plaster from the lathe. We have so many more visitors, volunteers, and staff walking that corridor daily that the cracks below have increased significantly in recent months.

celing 4

Our architectural team has advised that it is dangerous to wait until 2019 to address this cracked ceiling. It could come down at any time, and if it it does fall down it will come down in a sheet — and could potentially injure anyone standing below. This space is a central hub for our collections spaces, as well as is the hallway between our archives and the reading room. The safety of people is our top priority and we have restricted access to this space as a result… causing extreme inconvenience to our volunteers and staff, and limiting our ability to work in downstairs storage spaces.

We have obtained several bids for the removal of the ceiling, and expect it to cost between $3,000 and $4,000. Would you consider making a gift to help cover this unexpected cost? Your gift, whether $4,000, $400, or $40 will make a difference. It will help us to continue our operations on behalf of local history uninterrupted, and will keep this beautiful historic building in good shape.

Click here to help with the ceiling costs

If you have any questions about our historic building or this project, please contact Kristin at kristin.kaspar@hennepinhistory.org.

Thank you!

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