Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Work continues on Cultural Center

Jodi Summit
Posted 11/8/19

TOWER- Another wet, cold fall construction season has once again slowed exterior work on the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center located on Tower’s main street. Even so, LVCC Chair Mary Batinich is …

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Work continues on Cultural Center

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TOWER- Another wet, cold fall construction season has once again slowed exterior work on the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center located on Tower’s main street.
Even so, LVCC Chair Mary Batinich is excited that workers are again making progress in this years-long effort to give new life to the historic church building that will soon become the home of a wide range of cultural and community activities.
Batinich had hoped to have the building’s exterior siding fully installed yet this year, but given the recent onset of winter conditions, the realities of a northern Minnesota construction season have forced workers to adjust their goals accordingly.
Contractors are still hoping to get siding on the building’s lower level installed this fall, and plan to pour a concrete floor in the basement area beneath the elevator shaft.
“The lower level will be done then,” Batinich said said. The work needed to bring electric and gas lines into the building is also now complete, and a temporary heating system is installed. An electrician will soon begin installing the permanent electrical service to the building.
Other changes are coming to the south wall that faces Tower’s Main Street. The church’s iconic red doors will be moved about 15 feet to the west, so they enter directly into the Halunen lobby addition. Batinich hopes to get the siding on the lower portion of that wall completed this fall.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” said Batinich, who has been patiently leading the fundraising effort to restore the building and turn it into a community cultural center for well over five years.

Stained glass windows
Three sets of the newly restored stained-glass windows have now been installed in the apse end of the church, and these will be lit from the inside this winter. The remaining 11 stained-glass windows will be installed once the siding and roof are complete. The apse windows will be temporarily removed, to protect them also, while roof work is underway, according to Batinich.
“The windows are too delicate,” Batinich said, and contractors are worried that falling debris could damage them when the roofing is redone.
The windows, which were all removed from the historic St. Mary’s Episcopal Church before the building was moved, have been painstakingly restored by Kekekabic Studio in Ely.
The project, which involved moving a 125-year old historic church building to a new location, adding a full basement, lobby room and other community spaces, ran into a series of complications due to the age of the structure and the underlying condition of the roof which wasn’t discovered during initial architectural inspections. This quickly ramped up the project costs for the restoration.
“It’s still better than having the building just melt into the swamp where it was before,” Batinich said. LVCC is currently working on raising the $150,000 needed to replace and insulate the roof.
You can learn more about this project at www.vermilionculturalcenter.org.

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