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Volunteers scramble to repair Hopkinton building

November 19, 2012

HOPKINTON - Clarke Hall has played a number of roles over the past 120 years.

It was built as a girl's dormitory for Lenox College in 1890 and now serves as part of the Delaware County Historical Society museum.

In between, it was even part of an area public school system.

Article Photos

Telegraph Herald Photo
This Nov. 13 photo shows the exterior of the Delaware County Historical Museum on the old Lenox College campus in Hopkinton, Iowa. The building's foundation has had some structural problems that are being fixed by the Delaware County Historical Society.

"It isn't everybody who can say they graduated from a museum," said Kay Miles, historical society treasurer. "I can."

But, as historical society members learned this fall, the building can't stand on memories alone.

An investigation into the building's tilting stairs revealed a crumbling fireplace and a collapsed section of floor. Years of moisture have left floor joists rotted, making the entire structure at risk of sinking even further.

"(That's) when we realized the old girl was starting to go to pieces," Miles said.

Now historical society members are scrambling to save the building, thought to be one of the highlights of the museum. A contractor has started stabilizing floor joists and has removed the massive fireplace and chimney.

"It had to be taken out because it was pulling down the floors, and it was part of the walls ... so it was pulling everything to the center of the building," said Patty Hucker, historical society president.

The repairs are expected to cost between $6,000 and $8,000.

Some money has been raised through donations and grants, but Hucker said more is needed.

"It's enough that we decided we can just start and hope some more (funding) comes in," she said.

When the historical society first learned of the structural issues, Hucker said members "stopped and really thought about" whether the building was salvageable. But feedback from area students learning about the college's Civil War ties provided motivation to save Clarke Hall.

"This was their favorite building," Hucker said. "They just loved this building."

The entire Lenox College campus serves as the museum. The Civil War-era buildings are not heated and shut down in September. Hucker said repairs should be complete by the time the museum reopens in June.

Additional fundraising events probably will be scheduled for next spring.



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