Saturday, October 10, 2015

Deconstruction, reconstruction at Meyer Law Firm

The best show on the east side of the square Friday morning involved deconstruction of the shingled pent roof added during 1969 to Meyer Law Firm's 1901 building --- the first step in Raymond Meyer's goal of creating a new facade that contains elements of his father's, Virgil Meyer's, renovation while honoring the original design of the building.

The top photo shows the building before deconstruction began.

Here's how the building looked Friday afternoon, after the pent roof had been removed.

And this is the way the building looked soon after it was built by Richard Barnett in 1901 to house the Star Bakery.

The series of photos that follows, beginning with Ray providing some last-minute instructions to the deconstruction crew, follows the process.

The biggest initial challenge of this project was the fact that no one knew how much of the original facade had survived the 1969 renovation and the only way to find out was to tear off the pent roof. So Ray acquired the city permit needed before he could remove it --- and now has done so.

He will go back for an Oct. 14 hearing before the Board of Adjustment with a reconstruction design, hoping for approval.

David Barnett built the structure on a then-vacant lot during 1901 as an investment --- to house a client he already had lined up --- Star Bakery, then located on the north side. As built, the structure was 20x70 feet and had 14-foot ceilings.

Both the building and the bakery business had various owners during the next 70 years, before Virgil Meyer purchased and renovated it.

Quality Bakery, which closed during the 1960s, was the last to operate here. During those bakery years, the facade's brick was painted and the upper part of the almost entirely glazed original storefront enclosed.

Ray does plan to reconstruct the top of the facade --- above the steel beam that supports it. That will involve abating lead paint on beam and brick, then adding more courses of brickwork, including another row of dentil moulding and the cap.

How he bridges the gap between the 1969 brick of the lower facade and the original vintage brick crown of the facade --- we're going to have to wait.

Removing the pent roof involved cutting into the shingled arcade that fronts the old theater building to the north --- now housing the South Central Iowa Community Foundation offices. I was really happy to see behind that the original prism glass that once lighted the theater lobby. Perhaps that can be restored one day, too.

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