A piece of local history
BY ALYSSA MEIER
It has served as the county courthouse, Washburn city hall, the fire station and a meeting place for a variety of local organizations. And now, a group of residents is working to save the historical building in the heart of Washburn.
The Courthouse Rehabilitation Steering Committee is made up of five Washburn residents who are hoping to keep the city’s green museum building from disappearing into history.
“Our goal is to save the building” Committee member Mark Lelm said during an interview with the Leader-News. Lelm and McLean County Museum Curator Rhonda Johnson sat down last week to explain their plans, and hopes, for the 113-year-old building.
Lelm said the first step was ensuring that the museum was structurally sound. This meant hiring an inspector to go through the building and determine if it was salvageable, or if it would need to be torn down. Lelm and Johnson said they would be going to the May 14 Washburn City Commission meeting to request approval to proceed with the inspection, estimated at $15,000.
Lelm said during the committee’s meeting on Tuesday that even if the building has to be torn down, it needs to be inspected first so that money would be utilized no matter what.
If the building is inspected and found to be safe for construction, the real work would begin. Lelm said the committee was hoping to seal the basement, update electrical and plumbing, put in new windows and insulation and put in a furnace and and air conditioning to help slow down temperature swings. Lelm said the building isn’t at a steady internal temperature, so the structure is constantly shifting, causing cracks in the sheetrock.