A contract for the demolition of the county owned "north building" was approved Monday, but the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors will determine when the work will begin.

During its meeting Monday, the Board also scheduled agenda time with the Winneshiek County Historic Preservation Commission for next Monday, March 18, at 1 p.m. in the Board room to discuss "mitigation" before the building comes down.

Supervisor Dean Thompson reminded the rest of the Board Monday, the Commission had submitted a recommendation to the supervisors in a recent letter to take steps to "lessen the effect of removing the building and retain information" about it.

The north building is the last remaining county "poor farm" building in Freeport and is attached by an annex to the Wellington Place.

Wellington Place is a county-owned, privately managed care facility that leases from the county for $1 per year.

Last August, the Wellington Place administrator requested the north building be taken down for various health-related and economic concerns. Because the care facility's sprinkler system is tied to the north building's, Wellington Place has been spending about $12,434 annually to heat the unoccupied structure.

The north building last served as the men's unit for the Winneshiek County Care Facility (now Wellington Place) in the early 1990s before the new care facility nursing unit was built. Since then, it's been used for storage.



Mitigate adverse effect

While no one on the Commission wants to see the north building taken down, Commission members recognize the supervisors have voted to deconstruct it.

"To mitigate this adverse effect, the Commission recommends that Wellington Place or the county fund a data recovery project," Commission Secretary David Stanley wrote in a letter to the Board on behalf of the Commission

Goals of the project would be:

• To develop a historic context concerning efforts to care for the poor, mentally ill, aged and mentally/ physically handicapped

• To document the developmental history of the county poor farm

• To document the north building through photographs, floor plans and architectural drawings

• A thorough, in-text architectural description and analysis

• A detailed report of the historic context, developmental history, architectural analysis and interpretations along with a Power Point presentation concerning the property.

According to Stanley, the north building is a "unique testament to the efforts by county government to care for those in need and may have been constructed as early as 1866."

"From an architectural perspective, this structure has some Victorian style as well as Italianate and may well be one of a kind in the upper Midwest and possibly in the country," Stanley wrote.



Skyline contract

On Monday, the supervisors unanimously approved a contract with Skyline Construction Inc. of Decorah for demolition of the north building, including the removal of existing foundation material for $24,758. In addition, Skyline will charge $75 per ton for materials that have to be taken to the landfill and $60 a load for fill material.

Skyline also will charge $25,500 to demolish the steam boiler and steam piping in the laundry room.

Before approving the contract, Supervisor Floyd Ashbacher expressed concern the contract does not include a "not to exceed" clause.

Logsdon has previously stated it would cost approximately $64,000 to remove the north building.

After the contract was approved, Thompson made a motion to have the county make arrangements to salvage the two "rose windows," on the east and west gabled ends of the north building before demolition.