Restoration work begins after fire damages museum
Eight months ago on the hot summer day of July 9, 2007, the Lansing Historical Museum suffered its greatest disaster as a fire broke out in the old Santa Fe Railway depot's attic.
Firefighters responded quickly, covered memorabilia with tarps and started dowsing the building's roof with water. Onlookers watched the flames and smoke escaping from the damaged roof and the firefighters quickly carrying priceless artifacts to safety.
After months of being boarded up and closed to the public, the city began work last week on the museum's restoration.
"We're looking forward to it," said Laura Phillippi, site supervisor of the museum, 115 E. Kansas Ave. "It'll be nice to be back where I belong."
The total restoration will cost just over $99,000. The city received about $71,000 from the insurance company after the fire. An initial $25,000 was spent to bring in the national firm SERVPRO, which helped with the cleanup process such as restoring a few artifacts that had smoke or water damage as well as removing water from the inside of the building. The city will cover the remaining costs that include fixing damage to the structure itself.
"The fire itself didn't cause a lot of damage," Phillippi said. "It was all the water they had to pump in."
The fire, which started shortly after noon, was the result of an ember from a torch used earlier in the day to strip paint from the side of the building. Back in July, Leavenworth County Fire District No. 1 Chief Rick Huhn said that during the morning, a Lansing Correctional Facility work crew was given torches to help remove paint from the exterior of the museum. He said one of the torches must have been held on one spot for too long, igniting an ember that got in the attic.
At the time of the fire, no one was in the museum, which is closed on Mondays. Firefighters responded to the call made by a corrections facility guard driving past.
Wagner Construction, of Easton, was hired to handle the museum's remodeling. Phillippi said workers have stripped off old paint, caulked cracks and replaced rotten boards. The crew has also primed the building, which has already restored a resemblance of the building that's been tattered for so many months.
Crews will soon move inside where they will seal the basement floor with an epoxy, install sheetrock, paint, rewire the electricity and do the "little things to get it back the way it was," Phillippi said.
The city also has discussed adding a few new amenities for its returning patrons. Phillippi said one idea was a changing table in the restrooms for visiting families with young children.
The contract with Wagner Construction began in late February, with work slated to be completed in 90 days.
Phillippi said the city would hold an opening for the museum after work was done, but she said details on the event still are being decided. She added, however, that museum patrons could look forward to seeing a few new additions that had been donated to the museum since being closed as well as some old, familiar exhibits.