The Madison County Historical Museum, 715 N. Main St. in Edwardsville, will be closed for renovations beginning July 1. The Archival Library, located in the building next door at 801 N. Main St., will remain open for regular hours.
Last year, the Madison County Historical Society hired Bailey Edward, an Illinois architectural firm specializing in historic structures, to study the structural integrity of the 1836 Weir House. The building has been home to the county museum since 1964, and although there has been regular maintenance, repairs were not always done using methods compatible with early 19th-century construction materials. As a result, there is a lack of consistent and reliable climate control and both exterior, and interior surfaces have been damaged over the years.
Bailey Edward was asked to conduct a thorough review and provide recommendations for the restoration of the building, options for climate control and HVAC systems and suggestions for lighting and improved exhibits.
The resulting plan was divided into five phases, totaling $4.1 million. The society determined that the first two phases of the proposal are essential to the preservation of the building. The cost for these two phases of construction is estimated at $1,357,392. The society has 41 percent of the funds necessary to complete Phase I and II, which will include:
▪ A new roof including compatible substructure, flashing and soffit repair;
▪ Rebuilding of five chimneys;
▪ Restoration of six dormers;
▪ Excavation of the footings and tuck pointing of the entire building;
▪ Paint removal on the exterior brick (paint on soft brick traps moisture);
▪ Restoration of the doors and windows;
▪ Central climate control; and
▪ Restoration of two rooms into a modern exhibit space.
Phase I of the restoration, which encompasses the first three items listed above, will begin this summer to ensure that no additional water damage from rain or snow will impact artifacts or the building’s structural integrity. It is estimated that the museum will remain closed through December to complete Phase I restoration.
In the coming year, the society will focus on establishing a fund-raising plan to raise the additional $800,000 needed immediately to preserve this historic structure through private and public foundations, governmental agencies and through individual gifts. The goals of this project are two-fold: to put in place a long-term preservation plan for the 179-year-old Weir House, and to create exhibit space that will tell the story of Madison County’s history in new and innovative ways.
Regular hours for the Madison County Archival Library are Wednesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. For information, call the Madison County Archival Library at (618) 656-7569.