Proposal calls for tearing down Grange Hall

(Posted April 16, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

A proposal is on the table to demolish the Grange Building at the Madison County Fairgrounds in London.

Last year, the senior fair board planned to replace the blacktop in the building with a concrete floor but halted the project when they discovered most of the building’s support poles were rotten. The building is moving off of its foundation.

“The building weight is actually resting on the wood siding, forcing the south end to begin sinking where the electric enters,” said fair board member Dave Monnin.

The county commissioners had set aside $25,000 for the concrete floor. The fair board spent $2,700 of those funds before finding the damage and stopping the project.

Over the past year, Monnin has consulted with several carpenters and an architect about the prospects of shoring up and repairing the building. Two of the contractors said the building needs too much work to make repairs a cost-effective option for the fair board; they did not submit quotes. Two other contractors did submit quotes, one for $300,000 and the other for $380,000.  The architect said the building wasn’t worth the cost to repair it.

“My recommendation is to demolish this building as soon as possible,” Monnin said on April 9 in a presentation before the county commissioners.

Monnin requested that the county provide $8,000 to tear down the building. He said the senior fair board would pay the additional costs of about $4,000 to remove the electric and water, replace the wall the Grange building shares with the Merchants building, and install gravel to level the site.

The commissioners did not grant the $8,000. The county set aside $50,000 in its 2018 budget for the senior fair board to use as they saw fit. Commissioner David Dhume said the board should consider covering the demolition cost with those funds, instead of requesting additional funds.

As for whether the building should be razed, Dhume said, “I believe it’s an eyesore at the fairgrounds. Its time is past.”

Commissioner Mark Forrest said, as a history buff, he’d hate to see the old building go, but will support the fair board if they move forward with tearing it down.

Commissioner David Hunter asked why the fair board is in a hurry to demolish the building. Monnin said that while the structure likely won’t fall down anytime soon, it does pose potential safety issues.

“And the more it’s sitting there, the more it’s going to sag,” he said.

During last year’s fair, the building was roped off and closed to fairgoers.

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