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Preservation at Work: Roseburg’s Old Soldiers’ Home

July 3, 2012

By Ann Grim

For Kathy Henderson, director of the Umpqua Valley Arts Association in Roseburg, her organization’s leased historical building is both a blessing and a burden. The 1917 Old Soldiers’ Home is a beautiful building according to Henderson, but can be costly to operate. The building is owned by the City of Roseburg and also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Old Soldiers’ Home underwent energy upgrades that worked well with its preservation needs.

The nearly 9,000 square-foot brick building had 62 original, single-paned windows, lots of energy inefficient lighting to display art work, no attic insulation, and minimal wall insulation. The average monthly electric bill was more than $700 per month.

In 2010, the City of Roseburg applied for and was awarded an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant for weatherization work on the Old Soldiers’ Home. The federal Recovery Act (stimulus) award, made by the Oregon Department of Energy in a competitive solicitation, was for $237,576.

The City of Roseburg proposed to replace the original 62 windows with double-paned thermal windows, add insulation to the attic, seal the walls, weather-strip and replace two doors, and upgrade the lights. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) notified the City that they approved installing new insulation, replacing two doors, sealing walls and upgrading the lights. However, the SHPO found that replacing the nearly 100-year-old, original wood sash windows would have an adverse effect on the building.

Working with the SHPO, the City decided instead to repair the original windows and close the gaps. They hired Arciform, a Portland-based company that specializes in historic building restorations. There were minimal problems with the window repair and the crew had to replace only two panes of glass and did not find any asbestos. Only one window sill showed signs of termite damage.

The improvements to the Old Soldiers’ Home will make occupants more comfortable in both summer and winner, and should reduce energy costs by approximately $4,050 per year.

Ann Grim is with the Oregon Department of Energy’s Recovery Act Team.

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