As anyone who deals with old buildings knows, it's a constant struggle to keep them from falling down around your ears --- and that's certainly the case at the Lucas County Historical Society.
That big hole on the north side of Puckerbrush School, which dates from the 1870s, indicates that Phase II of a project that hopefully will keep the building on its feet for another 140 or so years is about to begin.
Puckerbrush, the last of our rural schools to close after consolidation, was moved to the museum campus from northwest Lucas County during 1968 and opened to the public during 1969.
Last year, we replaced the wood-shingled roof. That's now weathering nicely and has ceased to look so glaringly new.
This fall, we will be replacing the floor-support structure, which in large part seems to have rotted away --- or to be in danger of doing so.
Some of that is a factor of age, but the big problem seems to date from the move 45 years ago when a decision was made to plant the building on a foundation similar to what was under it originally, but much tighter because of the amount of concrete used to bond the stone. In addition, it was inadequately ventilated and no access to the shallow crawl space under the building was provided so there was no convenient way to assess the situation.
We've known since last fall, because of sagging floors on the north side of the building, that there were problems, but were unable to access them until Monday, when our contractor dug under the foundation to explore and confirmed worst expectations.
So now the building will be evacuated, the floor taken up and a new support structure installed --- not a simple task. In addition, adequate ventilation will be installed. Hopefully, the old oak flooring nailed down many years ago over at least one layer of subflooring can be salvaged. We'll see.
Since we're working in part with a helpful state preservation grant, the work plan must be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office, too, and that will take time.
So pardon our mess if you visit this fall. We hope to be back on solid footings later this year, but most certainly in time for next May's annual visit by Chariton Community School District fourth-graders.