2015 Preservation at its Best, Rural Preservation: Priester Building and Opera House
Bloomfield has about 2600 residents and is the county seat of Davis County. A key defining characteristic of many rural communities is the courthouse square surrounded on all sides by small storefronts. Unfortunately, many communities have several missing buildings—even entire missing blocks–surrounding their courthouses. Bloomfield could have been one of those communities, but it was saved when Butch & Lois Abel-Priester restored one of those failing storefronts. When the couple took on the project the building was experiencing a glut of issues contributing to its deterioration, including structural sag, leaking roof, crumbling mortar, rotting joists and supports, cracked and spalling brick, and interior water damage.
The building sag was dramatic. Of special concern was the structural integrity of the building following detailed engineer reports. The building required immediate stabilization. This would be accomplished by the installation of support jacks, pouring new support slabs, removing and replacing rotting joists and support beams, while raising the building to level the floors. The project experienced an unexpected challenge when the suggested building support systems became unavailable. Local Amish came to the aid of the project and provided a traditional method of building raising called cribbing. The method proved very effective and the building was successfully re-leveled over time as the foundation repairs progressed.