Work continues on the LaBelle Heritage Museum

Grayson Hicks of Streamline Construction and Consulting LLC together with Josue Pereira, JDP Consulting are working to get the wooden molds off of the concrete pour they did two weeks ago with Jackie Ratica of Special Concrete Design Inc.

The new concrete foundation will relieve the strain placed on the Florida pine logs that have served as the building’s foundation piers for the last 106 years along all four exterior walls as well as from the front wall to the rear wall of the building and in several other locations that showed the need for special attention.

“We have been able to salvage about 80 percent of the original lightered-pine flooring, some of the planks we have are 27 feet long!” says Grayson. “The exciting but also challenging part of this project is that we are trying to salvage as much of the original museum as possible, which means working around the old structure. Plus we stumble onto a lot of things that you don’t see on any regular jobsite. We have found all these bottles and cans (see picture) underneath the floor!” says Grayson. “Plus we found five times that much in broken glass”, Josue adds. “Which makes this a dangerous site to work on,” Grayson continues, “But we find a lot of interesting things underneath the floor. We found a hubcap, two doors, three windows, one street sign and much more stuff.”

“There is a lot of history in this museum but also in the structure itself. That’s why we are salvaging as much of the original floor as possible, and on the outside of the building, we have kept the original Florida pine logs exposed so you can still see the buildings original foundation,” says Grayson as he uncovers the pine logs.

“In the beginning of the project the front door of the museum would hit the floor of the front porch, it would only open up halfway. Every year the museum would sink a quarter inch, this is due to the six hertz of vibration laterally and horizontally that the building suffers just from the traffic on Bridge Street,” Grayson explains.

They discovered historic concrete steps when the non-historic front porch of the 106 year-old Poole building was removed preparatory to readying the main building foundation for stabilization. They decided at that point to return the front elevation of the building to the look it had before the downstairs front porch was added, somewhere between 1989 and 1992. The front steps will have a new but still historic look.

“Our next step is enforcing the beams that hold up the floor,” Grayson says, “after that we are putting a subfloor in before we put most of the original pine flooring back in. All in all I am honored to have the opportunity to restore and preserve the LaBelle Heritage Museum and the history within it.”


Geoffrey Ionescu can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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