Emma powder house garners historic grant
August 8, 2011
EMMA – The Emma powder house, a crumbling brick building behind the historic Emma store structures along Highway 82 in the midvalley, is next in line for a restoration effort to keep it from collapse.
Pitkin County will receive $94,706 from the State Historic Fund to finance the project, it learned last week. The county’s Open Space and Trails program will put $46,646 toward the project.
“We are thrilled once again to receive funding from the State Historic Fund to restore yet another irreplaceable historic structure in Emma,” said Dale Will, open space and trails director, in a press release. “The powder house is very elegant, with a charming copula centered on a pitched roof. It would be a shame not to include this building in the overall Emma restoration effort.”
The distinctive powder house was built circa 1898 along with the nearby Mather House and Emma Store buildings. Some say that the small, square structure stored black powder to isolate it from the main buildings, while others have suggested it was used as a livery, according to Will. Research is ongoing.
Engineering work to determine the specifics of restoring the roof and walls will come next, with actual restoration beginning as soon as next spring.
In March, the Open Space and Trails board of directors was told the powder house was in danger of collapse if nothing is done, though the wall that is in the worst shape has been shored up with timber as a stopgap measure.
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“The bricks are still coming down, the roof is in terrible shape. … The cupola is in danger of falling off,” Gary Tennenbaum, Open Space and Trails land steward, said at the time.
Work on the powder house would include repairs to the brick masonry and create an inner support structure to hold the roof up. The bricks on much of one wall have already fallen to the ground.
The restoration of the Emma Store – actually two side-by-side buildings – accomplished much the same thing last year. Crumbling parts of the brick walls were rebuilt, a new roof was installed after the old one collapsed, and new structural supports now hold up the roof rather than the walls.
Open Space and Trails spent $125,000 to stabilize the main store structures and then another $419,908 on the restoration. A state grant provided $243,959 toward the restoration work.
The county acquired the historic property, downvalley from Basalt, in 2008 but has yet to decide what to do with the buildings.
Open Space and Trails can either seek a rezoning to use the buildings itself or sell them to recoup its investment in the property, according to Will.