In the spring of 2018, a major step towards the integration of the Ferris Grand Block into PCHS’s mission took place with the opening of a connecting doorway. The shared wall between the Museum’s Gallery III and the Ferris Grand’s Masonic dining room (second floor) was broken through with the intention of creating a doorway between the two spaces. Turns out the elevation is a little different, so a stairway was built on the Gallery III side. Turns out we gained a few insights as to the building structure due to this project.
When the former exterior wall of the Museum- originally Pipestone’s City Hall- was broken through, we ran into a window! Well, a window opening, no glass. It had been bricked up when the dining room addition was built against the back wall in the 1930s. It just hadn’t occurred to us that there were originally several windows spanning that space. That gave us insight into the original Old City Hall/Museum building.
But the biggest surprise, and it shouldn’t have been, was that the Masonic dining room addition wasn’t built ‘adjoining’ the back of City Hall, it was built ‘on to’ the back wall of City Hall. Meaning Old City Hall’s formerly exterior wall was merely fitted out with furring strips and paneling attached directly to the wall.
This explains and illustrates how the historic buildings in Historic Downtown Pipestone find themselves in peril when the adjoining building goes down. Its not just that they are built very close together and disturbing one will disturb another. It’s that they are literally sharing important structural parts.
Luckily for us, and probably more importantly luckily for both of these buildings, they are now owned by one group, dedicated to seeing them structurally sound.