Macedonia -- Just weeks before its one-year access to the city-owned Manor House is due to expire, the Longwood Manor Historical Society reports it is making some progress in renovating the structure.
LMHS President John Cassmer said the society is getting help from Macedonia-based Paul Fike Builders, Inc., which last month replaced a badly rotted 9-foot-long vertical support beam at the front of the nearly 90-year-old former home of Col. William Frew Long in Longwood Park.
"It's a weightbearing beam," said Cassmer.
The firm's owner, David Fike, said the work was completed Nov. 26. City Building Commissioner Mike Hlad said the beam passed inspection Nov. 27.
Fike said he is also considering what could be done about the house's leaking roof.
"We're looking at the slate roof to see if it can be salvaged," said Fike, adding that if the tiles need to be replaced, less expensive simulated slate could be used in their place.
Fike said the LMHS will be billed for work done, but his firm will not make a profit.
"How much is undetermined," he said. "Basically, we're just looking at covering our costs."
Cassmer said he is also talking with other area contractors about furnace repairs, foundation work and water proofing. He said the basement has been prone to flooding.
"I've seen water down there at times," he said. "Most of the time it's dry, but when it rains it gets a couple of inches."
Long, who served as the cityy's mayor from 1962 to 1976, bequeathed his home and nearly 300 acre estate for use as a park when he died in the early 1980s.
City Council formally made the LMHS the home's caretaker in 2002 and over the next few years, the LMHS worked to renovate it.
However, citing numerous building code violations, the city closed the house and a nearby caretaker cottage in 2006, then condemned both structures in March 2007.
The cottage was later demolished, but Council eventually approved an indefinite delay in demolition of the Manor House.
The LMHS commissioned a $5,000 architectural study that estimated that renovation could cost nearly $500,000, with a $60,000 reduction possible if volunteer labor is used. City officials have repeatedly said the city does not have the money to spend on the house.
Last February, Council approved a one-year permit, allowing the LMHS access to the house. Fike said "it would be a shame" if the house was demolished.
"Hopefully, the historical society will be successful in what they're trying to do," he said.
Cassmer acknowledged that the home's long-term future is still uncertain.
"I wish we could get everything done all at once," he said. "Everything is beginning to fall into place, that's all I can say."