Repairs sought for the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument in Hamilton will cost double the original estimate of $500,000, according to a restorer who also worked on the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
Butler County commissioners, however, are hesitant to spend so much to restore the 112-year-old building housing historic artifacts and war records that may be in peril due to a crumbling ceiling and other issues.
“Am I going to commit to $1 million? No,” Commissioner T.C. Rogers said. “You have to see what’s best for your community. Is that where you spend that kind of money?”
Commissioner Don Dixon concurred, adding the new estimate is “astronomical” and commissioners need to take a holistic approach to the needs of the county’s historic landmarks.
The county spent $91,994 rebuilding steps on the historic courthouse last year. The building still needs other sections of stairs replaced, as well as a new roof and repairs to the sandstone façade.
“Really, (the monument) is no different than the courthouse,” Dixon said. “Those buildings are massive maintenance issues …”
More than a year ago, the Hamilton Community Foundation pledged $250,000 to fix the leaking roof on the monument and to make other repairs, if the county would pick of the up the other half of the estimated $500,000 tab.
The Foundation has not had time to review the latest cost estimates and could not immediately say if it would be able to contribute more funds, according to John Guidugli, president and CEO of the Hamilton Community Foundation.
A recent report divided the cost of the project into three phases:
- The first phase has a price tag of $471,778, plus $90,000 for scaffolding that will be up for six months, $157,480 for contingencies and $125,984 for general conditions, meaning what contractors may find beneath the surface.
- The second phase is expected to cost $33,550 and includes things like new storm windows over the stained glass and other windows and cleaning the bronze sculpture at the top. These items would be addressed in a three- to five-year time frame.
- The third phase is estimated at $124,923 and would address aesthetics such as cleaning, replacing bird deterrents and other finishing touches.
The monument houses a myriad of uniforms, artifacts of wars like cannons and bayonets, documents, books and other memorabilia dating back to the Civil War. The monument is also home for records of Butler County residents who served in World War I, World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars.
The monument had been open on Fridays and Saturdays until last summer, when curator Don Schollenbarger retired. Now, tours are by appointment only.