Decision time for North Liberty’s historic Ranshaw House

Posted by mw on February 24th, 2010 10:33 am

Decisions need to be made, and soon, about what to do with the historic Ranshaw House in North Liberty.

To start, the house needs exterior rehabilitation work to prevent additional damage, city leaders and historic committee members said.

“The roof needs to be repaired immediately because it affects the quality of the house,” said Mary K. Mitchell, a member of the North Bend Historical Committee. Because of the roof’s age, there is a small leak into the attic, committee members said.

Built in 1908, the Samuel Ranshaw house at 515 W. Penn St. is considered a monument of the city’s rural past. Members of the historical committee have been working to protect the house for about five years, since the city purchased the property.

The first thing needed is an estimate of what it will cost for just the exterior improvements, specifically the roof. The report the city has now includes improvements for the entire property, including a parking lot and landscaping. That total is $602,000, said Tracey Mulcahey, North Liberty’s assistant city administrator.

“We’re at the point where it’s critical decision-making,” said Mulcahey, who also serves as the city’s representative on the North Bend Historical Committee.

Without work to the exterior, “it’s going to deteriorate too much for us to do something,” she said.

City leaders are waiting to see what the new costs will be before deciding what’s next for the historic home. The council included the Ranshaw House in the fiscal year 2010 and 2011 budgets to allow for spending either year, Mulcahey said.

Until the numbers are in, “we’re kind of just laying back and waiting on that to see where it goes,” Mayor Tom Salm said.

If the outside of the house is restored, giving the historic committee more time, members hope to pursue designation on the National Register of Historic Places, Mitchell said.

“Getting the house on the Register makes us eligible for certain grants for the actual rehabilitation of the building,” she said.

The building is sound but needs work, she said.

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