Grant will aid Historical Society work

The Warren County Historical Society has announced the award of the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission Keystone Historic Preservation Construction grant.

This grant award is the third phase in the restoration project of the 210 Fourth Avenue, Warren structure, also known as the Struthers-Wetmore-Schimmelfeng House. The Second Empire, 10,700-square-foot structure was built between 1870 and 1873 by the Struthers family, lived in by the Wetmore family from 1873 through 1890 and later sold to the Schimmelfeng family.

In 1950, the Warren County Commissioners purchased the building and created an annex to provide county offices and an apartment in the section that had served as the servants’ quarters of the building. In 1964, the Warren County Commissioners gave residence to the Warren County Historical Society.

The Historical Society maintains approximately 2,500 square feet as display and research area, while the bulk of the square footage is archival storage for the vast collections of Warren County’s artifacts, textiles, images and documents.

Over the last several years, due to the inclement weather of Warren County and the natural progression of aging, the building has experienced deterioration and requires a new west chimney, missing and damaged slate replacement and repairs to the northeast roof to prevent further leaking.

The Warren County Historical Society has been approved for a $25,000 matching grant through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Keystone Historic Preservation Construction Program. A $25,000 match of funds was required in order to fulfill the grant requirements. Fortunately, The Betts Foundation and the Community Foundation of Warren County provided matching funds while the remaining funds will be provided through the Warren County Historical Society endowment fund. The endowment fund is an ongoing capital improvement campaign that has been supported and increased due to the generosity of historical society members, since 2002.

According to managing director Michelle Gray, “Phase one of the preservation project was the preparation of a house assessment report funded through a $5,000 PHMC grant that developed a disciplined approach to the care of the historic building. KidderWachter Architecture & Design, with the involvement of staff and Chase Putnam, inspected, documented and gathered information to provide a comprehensive understanding of the Struthers-Wetmore-Schimmelfeng House. All components of the building have been examined and for each element a determination was made as to its date of origin, existing condition and scope of necessary repair.

A permanent graphic and written record of these findings has been prepared and is available for viewing. The compilation of the building’s history and current conditions created a benchmark that will not only provide a guide for immediate work, but also will provide future generations with a clear picture of what was found in 2010.

Phase two provided architectural drawings and an electrical evaluation of the premises funded through a $10,000 PHMC grant. This project provided crucial information and the guidelines in which to prepare for the PHMC Keystone Construction grant application.

Phase three includes the replacement of the west chimney as well as repair and create a stable, water resistant environment on the surrounding roof. In much of the area, the slate is either gone or needs replaced. A complete slate replacement project of the damaged or missing pieces will be a future goal, however at this time it is necessary to selectively replace missing slate in order to provide a more structurally sound, dry roof.”

Recently, president of the Warren County Historical Society Keith Oviatt and Treasurer Wallace E. Blyth met to assess the progress of the construction and authorize the necessary financial paperwork. According to Oviatt, “The organization is very pleased to have the roof work finished before winter. The Warren County Historical Society continually strives to maintain a preservation friendly environment for the artifacts.”

For more information about Warren County, Pennsylvania history, please visit www.warrenhistory.org.