When we started on this wonderful journey in March, the Horner House was in much better condition than it is today. Between the bad weather, vandals and people scavenging for metal, so much about the house has changed – for the worse. And everyone is going to be patient because it’s going to get even worse before it gets better. I know that sounds awful but let me explain.
First, we don’t have $300,000 sitting around waiting for us to start our restoration so things are not going to visually progress as quickly as everyone would like, including ourselves. Secondly, we needed to secure the property so that the looting would stop. We’ve already installed security thanks to Myers Protection Services - http://www.alarmsystems.cc/! They were great to work with and we’re hoping that just having the security setup and the signs will prevent trespassing and looting so that we don’t have to waste our time in court. Now we have peace of mind and at a discount. We’ll need to work with the city to understand what type of construction fence we can install. And we’ll need to work with Health & Hospital to keep from getting fined for any further violations on the property. Hopefully, they will understand that we’re working as fast as we can to get this property back up to code.
Our proposal to Indiana Landmarks was to get the roof, windows and walls watertight before winter. Our plan all along was to use temporary materials to make the structure watertight for the winter. The priority was to use Plexiglas and caulking on the windows and asphalt shingles/roll roofing on the roof. But our priority has changed to stabilizing the West Wing first so it can survive the winter. The horrible ice this winter caused the back wall of the West Wing to collapse. We had planned on the wall being stabilized before we closed on the house, however, that plan fell through. Now our priority is to get the structural engineer back out to help us put together a plan to do the stabilization. Then we need to find the funding to get that completed before the weather turns bad again. Unfortunately, the cellar of the West Wing has become a pit for the vandals to dump the contents of the house into, so we also need to get that cleaned out before much stabilizing work can be done. Since the West Wing can’t be seen from the street, it’s going to look like we haven’t done anything much on the property for a while. And then when we can move forward, the Plexiglas and loss of the slate shingles will not make us popular. So we’ll be doing some work that may make the house look worse temporarily.
But now, back to our original plan. After making the house watertight, the plan for the Main Wing of the house was to improve first the roof, then the windows and finally the brick walls before starting on the inside. Unfortunately, the structural engineer changed those plans on his initial visit. The interior floors have become weakened due to exposure to the weather and this is causing the exterior brick walls of the Main Wing to become unstable. Before anything permanent can be done to the exterior of the Main Wing, the interior floors will need to be stabilized.
There is not enough money to do everything we want/need to do, so we’ll continue to do some basic prioritization. And while we do all this work on the house, we’ll also be working on funding for our “little” restoration project and growing the family business. And we’ll be trying to find time to sleep occasionally, too!
So we are hoping you’ll all be very patient as we go through this process. She is not going to look better initially but we’re hoping it won’t take too long. If you promise not to get discouraged, we promise we won’t!
Here’s the way the West Wing back wall looked in March. Unfortunately, it’s even worse now. More pictures to follow.