Linden Heritage Foundation Holds Annual Meeting of the Membership

The Linden Heritage Foundation met on January 12, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. at the Linden Garden Club in Linden, Texas.  President,  Joe B. Lovelace, called the meeting to order.

The first agenda item was the report of the Nominating Committee comprised of Lanita Williams, Wanda Burns, and Sandra Skoog.  Ms. Skoog proposed the committee’s selection of four names as a slate to replace the expired terms of four directors.  Mr. Lovelace asked for additional nominations from the floor and, upon receiving none, the quorum present unanimously elected for three (3) year terms to the Linden Heritage Foundation Board of Directors:  Pat Rountree, Jo Anna Duncan, Becky Wilbanks, and Brenda Deming.

2019 Linden Heritage Foundation Directors. From bottom left: Jo Anna Duncan, Barbara Teachey, Gail Dorgan, Lanita Williams, Brenda Deming, Joe B. Lovelace, Pat Rountree, Jana Bounds, Sandra Skoog, Wanda Burns, and Becky Wilbanks. Not shown; John Knapp. Photo courtesy of Neil Abeles.

Following the election, Jana Bounds presented the financial report for the Foundation.  The Foundation began FY2018 with a fund balance of $35,650.69. At the end of FY2018 the fund balance was $40,756.72, with $2,514.47 being restricted for the Firehouse Project.

Mr. Lovelace then gave a report on the 1939 Old Linden Firehouse.

Linden was the beneficiary of a number of New Deal era projects beginning with assistance in the reconstruction of the Cass County Courthouse after a 1933 fire.  For some time afterward, Linden reeled from the futility of having faced a devastating fire with little means but bucket brigades to bring it under control.

Photo of 1933 Courthouse fire from the Collection of Charline Wiley Morris

The following year, 1934, a grant/loan opportunity was made available by the Public Works Administration to finance the first Linden Waterworks – a municipal sanitary water and sewer system that included the 1934 Water Tower now standing at the corner of Rush and Taylor Streets. In 1935, the Linden Volunteer Fire Department was organized and men were properly trained and certified, allowing fire insurance rates to be affordable to the town.

The “Old Linden Firehouse” built in 1939 with funds and material donated by its citizens is a remarkably simple structure.  It served its initial purpose until the City had need for more room for its firefighting equipment.  In 1949, a second floor was added to the 1939 building and a north addition was built.

The Old Firehouse remained in operation until 1962 when a new fire station was completed. The older building afterward had various uses until being abandoned.  It fell into serious disrepair in recent decades, during which water infiltration and damage accelerated to the point of serious endangerment of the structure.

Collapsed roof of the 1949 north addition is on the left. The roof of the 1939 structure is on the right. Aerial photo courtesy of Kerry Wells (January 2016).

In January 2016 the City of Linden conveyed the Old Firehouse to the Linden Heritage Foundation.

The Foundation adopted a Rescue Plan for the 1939 Firehouse to. . .

. . . restore the Firehouse to the Secretary of Interior Standards,
. . . formalize the site’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places,
. . . give the building a use that will further Linden’s revitalization goals, and
. . . create a heritage asset out of the present eyesore on this important block of downtown Linden.

In November 2016, the Linden Heritage Foundation received a Texas Preservation Trust Fund grant from the Texas Historical Commission for a Historic Structure Report (HSR) for the Old Linden Firehouse.  In July 2017, the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded preservation funds for Plans & Specifications (P&S).

Reports from preservation experts established the structural elements from 1939-1949 to be not only historically significant but also to be of fair to good integrity.

This was not true for the structural elements dating post-1949.  The 1949 addition was of sub-standard materials and poor design/workmanship.

Ground floor of 1939 structure looking north to collapsed steps to 2nd floor 1949 addition. 2016 photo courtesy of Sam Higdon.
Second floor 1949 addition, south view. 2016 photo courtesy Sam Higdon.

The Linden Heritage Foundation conducted four Firehouse Clean-Up Days and added a supportive roof covering the 1939 structure.

Ground floor 1939 structure looking north (2018) after Clean-Up Days. Photo courtesy Jo Anna Duncan.
New roof covering and protective paneling over windows. Aerial photo courtesy of Kerry Wells (December 2018).

The Historic Structure Report team established a Period of Significance (POS) 1939-1962 not 1939-1949 as requested by the Foundation.  The longer POS attached to the building by that finding led to a functionally challenged, fragmented, and compartmentalized structure – more than 2/3 of which would not meet legal occupancy requirements.

The original use plan specified by the Foundation was commercial/retail.  However, as applied to the POS 1939-1962 structure it proved to be a substantially more expensive project – involving rehabilitation of 1,738 sq ft, with only 487 sq ft meeting commercial occupancy codes.

Mark Thacker of Tyler was retained as a preservation architect to prepare Plans & Specifications (P&S).   After extensive review of the building and its limitations, Mr. Thacker prepared Plans & Specifications for rehabilitating the building for residential use, a more viable preservation approach than commercial.

“Old Linden Firehouse” – Residential Use – 2018 Plans & Specifications – Mark Thacker, Architect

The Texas Historical Commission and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, having provided funding for the HSR and P&S, approved the change.

Rendering of Rehabilitated “Old Linden Firehouse.” Courtesy of Lucas Allen, Le Tourneau University, Longview – 2016

At its Board Meeting in April, the Linden Heritage Foundation directors will decide the next steps to take with the Old Linden Firehouse.

 

 

 

 

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