Monday, June 20, 2011

Adelbert Ames House in Need of Repairs

This article is courtesy of the Daytona Beach News Journal. A house once owned by Union General Adelbert Ames is in desperate need of repairs. So far there's no real grass-roots effort that I am aware of. Of course with it being a government owned building I'm not sure how many private citizens will be willing to put money or effort into the cause.

Sorry for the weird formatting on the photos. They came out this way when I pasted the article and after messing it up a couple of times trying to move them and make more sense of it I gave up.

Ormond Beach debates historic house repairs
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Ames House, used for the city attorney’s office, has problems, including leaking windows and mold. Repairs would cost the city more than $284,000. (N-J | Nigel Cook)
Gen. Adelbert Ames and his wife, Blanche, were the owners of Ames House in the early 1900s. The home and grounds stayed in the family until Ormond Beach acquired the property in 1973. The grounds are a public park. (Ormond Beach Historical Society)
Some of the repairs that need to be made at the Ames House deal with leaks around the windows. The first phase of the Ames House improvement program could begin later this year with replacement of 12 historic windows at $22,000. (N-J | David Tucker)
The gardens at Ames Park on the south side of the Ames House are “pretty well used,” including by students and photographers, according to City Attorney Randy Hayes. (N-J | David Tucker)
City Attorney Randy Hayes (N-J | David Tucker)
ORMOND BEACH -- In the early 1900s, Blanche Ames became a golf widow -- rocking her days away on the veranda of the Ormond Hotel while her husband, former Union Army General Adelbert Ames, strolled the fairways with John D. Rockefeller, the city's most famous winter resident.

She looked for something to occupy her time so she began buying real estate, including land on the mainland along the Halifax River, and a block house at 173 S. Beach St., according to historic material displayed in a gazebo there. The blocks are molded masonry designed to simulate rough-cut limestone, according to the records.

The house offers an expansive view of the water and riverfront homes on the opposite side from its location on a jut of land south of the Granada Bridge.

In 1973, the city acquired the land, now Ames Park, south of Granada Boulevard. The stone house was used for city services, and since 1999 as the city attorney's office.
But the building has problems, including leaking windows and mold. Repairs in a three-year proposed improvement plan to be considered by city commissioners would cost more than $284,000.

Commissioners will learn more about the costs at a capital improvement workshop at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the training room at City Hall, prior to a 7 p.m. commission meeting in commission chambers.

The first phase of the Ames House improvement program would begin later this year with replacement of 12 historic windows at $22,000. Masonry work, moisture protection, drywall replacement and other initial improvements would total more than $57,000, according to a report submitted by Acting City Engineer John Noble.
The second phase includes more masonry work, doors, windows and disinfecting for nearly $175,000. Phase three includes more of the same for an additional $52,000, the report said.

"It blows my mind," said Commissioner Troy Kent of the proposed cost at a recent commission meeting.

"I want to fix the Ames House, but not for $300,000," Kent said at the meeting.
Commissioner Rick Boehm said the government-required arrangement of having a single contractor for city projects has advantages but a drawback is there are no competitive bids to compare.

Mayor Ed Kelley has some different ideas for the building.

"I have been talking to an individual who would be possibly looking at a joint public/private partnership," Kelley said at the meeting. "We have more than enough vacant space at City Hall for the legal department to move into.

"It will cost us a half-a-million dollars by the time it's done, because this does not include the top floor," Kelley said.

A public/private partnership could also include restoring the MacDonald House at 38 E. Granada Blvd., home of the Ormond Beach Historical Trust, he said.
Commissioner Bill Partington said he understood repairs might be "costly because it's historic" but he would like to keep the Ames House as a city facility.

Commissioner James Stowers said at the meeting he was "inclined to keep the city attorney and his staff over there," and City Attorney Randy Hayes said he would like to "be involved in any decision to be anywhere other than where we currently are."

In a separate interview, Hayes said the park is "pretty well used," including by students and photographers. Visitors often stop by the building with questions, although it is not open to the public, he said.

"The Ames House was owned by my great uncle -- built by an artist in 1910," said T.P. Plimpton of Ormond Beach in a phone interview. Plimpton, brother of the New York aristocrat and famed writer George Plimpton, lives across from the Ames house and describes its condition as "poor."

Local attorney Greg Snell, award winner for restoration of a 1940s coquina structure at 160 E. Granada Blvd., believes promoting local history is important.

Ames House," he said. "Whether or not it remains property of the city, I would like to be involved (with Ames House). I have a lot I could contribute.

"If they are looking at a private/public partnership, there might be incentive for someone to invest," Snell said.

"It's a great building and aesthetically appealing as well," he said. "It would be great to have that restored and accessible to visitors."

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