Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

August 22, 2012

Experts say bank building not bad

CATLETTSBURG — Architects and engineers examined the Catlettsburg National Bank building recently and found it in better than expected shape, preservation advocates say.

The experts spent more than five hours in the building, scrutinizing it from the basement to the roof, said Catlettsburg Main Street director Frank Branham.

The appraisal was part of an engineering study to outline structural issues and repair options, said Joe Pierson, executive director of the Kentucky Trust for Historic Preservation.

The building has some structural issues but fewer and not as serious as expected, Pierson told the Catlettsburg City Council Tuesday.

“The building is not about to fall down,” he said. Pierson expects the full report to be issued as early as Friday.

“We expect the report will vindicate everything we have said previously,” Branham said.

Once the report is in hand, preservation advocates expect a demolition order filed earlier this year will be lifted.

Once that happens they can start planning, initially to stabilize the structure and ultimately to restore it. A $5,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation paid for the study. Money for repairs and restoration will have to come from multiple sources, both public and private, said Laura Tussey, chairwoman of the restoration committee.

A restoration timeline hasn’t yet been established, but one immediate task will be to beef up the barricade in front of the building at 26th and Center streets.

Some bricks and pieces of slate roof have fallen off the building, leading to complaints about safety. Others have complained that the barricade cuts off access to the sidewalk.

The barricade will be modified to form a plywood tunnel which will protect pedestrians. That can be done in the next few days, Pierson said.

Falling bricks are a safety issue but aren’t related to the structural integrity of the building. The bricks are a sheathing that covers the actual load-bearing parts of the building.

One holdup to getting the brickwork stabilized is the lack of availability of qualified masons, Tussey said. Historic buildings require specialized skills and such masons are hard to find and in high demand.

The restoration committee anticipates holding a number of fundraisers to pay for the work, she said.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or

(606) 326-2652.

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