Herriman Mansion Restoration Project - Brick Board Bugle - Special Issue - May 16, 2002
Special Issue (EXTRA)May 16, 2002

The Brick Board Bugle

Herriman Mansion website: http://freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~herrimanmansion/index.html

Editor: Everett Zupke
4802 Marion Avenue
Cypress, CA 90630-4323
(714) 828-1894

Local Coordinator: Ed Gage
140 S. River Street
Wadena, IA 52169
(563) 774-3205

Newspapers of Fayette County Online website link The Herriman Mansion Restoration Project

Herriman Mansion
Segment of drawing from the 1875 Andreas Atlas showing the Herriman Mansion as it appeared in the 1870s.

Community Sites: Elgin: (Iowa Related Links - Misc. Links) Clermont: (Links Of Local Interest) Fayette Co. Genealogy: https://sites.rootsweb.com/~iafayett/

Note: This issue of The Brick Board Bugle is also available in PDF format for the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Past Issues of the Brickboard Bugle

Special Issue

This special extra issue is being published to inform the public, supporters and friends of the Herriman Mansion project about the report on the Technical Advisory Network (TAN) visit on April 27, 2002, to evaluate the Herriman Mansion project.

TAN Report

The Technical Advisory Network (TAN) visit was conducted on April 27, 2002, to evaluate the Herriman Mansion project and a report was received by email from Marlin Ingalls on May 9, 2002. As reported in Issue 3, the visit was excellent and provided immediate beneficial input. The full TAN report is available. Copies have been distributed to some of the key members of the project team. This special issue is being published with key excerpts from the full report to make all the supporters and friends of the Herriman Mansion Restoration Project aware of the results.

T.A.N. Site Evaluation: The Herriman Mansion


The Herriman Mansion located in Wadena, Fayette County, Iowa, was constructed ca. 1850 and is eligible for listing on the National Register under Criteria A, B, and C. . . . The results of that site visit and evaluation of the resource are noted below.

Overview of Architectural Style and Period of Significance

Architecturally and stylistically the Herriman Mansion falls within the Late-Federal period of architectural design style. Some Greek Revival elements were observed but not highly developed in this building. The Federal style was popular in Iowa from the 1830s to the 1860s and is seen in sections of the state settled prior to the Civil War.

The residence's size implies its importance to the community and it was the residence of the community's founder. The Herriman Mansion is a reflection of trans-regional thinking and is a social and economic statement of the owner's importance to the community. The house and its owner played a significant role in the community's economic, social, and political views and the house was a visual statement of this and should be part of its interpretation.

Lastly, it expresses an overall statement of the deep roots of America's agricultural and social thinking as expressed in Iowa during the Herriman Mansion's period of its significance. It is an artifact both of Jacksonian democracy and classical architecture from Iowa's late territorial era. This contextual history needs to be understood both by the conservators, visitors, and eventually by the staff relating the history of the resource.

Herriman Mansion Evaluation

First Floor Plan. The floor plan and room arrangement of the building is original with a few minor alterations.

First Floor Condition. The condition of the first floor of the main house (I-section) is fair. The cut limestone, quarry-faced, random ashlar-bonded foundation and lower wall appear in overall good condition. The main problem is that the central, soft-mud brick, interior supporting wall has serious structural problems associated with rising damp. The brick exfoliation is severe with several sections of brick reduced to powder. This structural element should be addressed immediately for stabilization of the entire front section.

The floor of the rear extension was not visible in many areas but looked stable, as did the exterior wall up to the roofline. On the upper roofline deterioration of the roof has led to water infiltration that has caused the weakening of mortar and loss of the integrity of the hewn timber sill plate in several areas. The northwestern corner, between the rear extension and kitchen, has seen considerable damage. This appeared to be caused by the impact of machinery on the corner more than direct structural deterioration.

Second Floor Condition. Unlike the first floor the second floor's millwork, flooring, plaster, hardware, and other elements show a high degree of integrity and preservation. An unusual feature is a horizontal plank wainscoting. This is a very unusual feature and has survived in very good condition.

Part of the second floor level of the rear wing has collapsed onto the first floor. This entire area needs to be cleaned out and stabilized with shoring, posts, or cribbing.

Third Floor Condition. This level has suffered the most water damage due to the deterioration of the roof. Water infiltration from the roof and the birds are the two immediate problems needing to be addressed for this level.

Structural Problems and Recommendations by Priority

Essentially, as it presently stands the Herriman Mansion can be viewed as a ruin. As a result, due to the significant structural problems of the house at this time all efforts should go only into emergency structural stabilization. This entails replacing the roof, masonry stabilization and repair, including banding the front fašade, and removing and sorting all debris.

Roof. The roof over the entire building is deteriorated with large sections collapsed. Water damage is severe in some areas.

Recommendation. Complete replacement.

Front Fašade. One of the first priorities is to address a large structural crack in the masonry. While this area feels stable at present the entire front of the house is in jeopardy of collapse at any time. This structural problem needs immediate stabilization and the entire masonry walls sections surrounding the crack will need to be rebuilt and other areas shored up. If the fašade should fall restoration of the house would be a moot point.

Recommendation. Three possible wall stabilization methods come to mind in order that the weight and vibration that will occur during roofing and cleanup does not cause further damage or even collapse.

  1. This first method is for the purposes of emergency stabilization and for making as safe a working environment as possible while roofing and interior cleanup are ongoing. Large metal/plastic banding straps or wires, such as those tying down truck or trainloads and palettes, may be used to wrap the entire main section of the house, at two, three, or more levels.
  2. The second and permanent method is to drill into the walls to secure wooden or steel braces at the corners and other weakened areas where wall separation is evident. It may be necessary to temporarily run cables through the entire building from the front to rear wall while the roof is being replaced in that section and until the masonry can be repaired.
  3. A third but more extensive and expensive method is to erect a series of braces along the entire fašade running from the ground to the fašade at various heights. This method may be necessary if the other to methods are not viable.

As a permanent repair large long bolts will have to be drilled into the interior masonry walls and affixed to an iron plate set within the wall at a stable place. A wall anchor plate, commonly seen on area period houses, can then be attached on the exterior securing the fašade to the interior walls.

Structural Support. Kim Tschudy from Wisconsin, who has his own historic building project underway in Clermont, has also continued to be very supportive of the Herriman Mansion project. He has been instrumental in bringing to our attention and helping us to arrange a Technical Advisory Network (TAN) visit on April 27, 2002, to evaluate the Herriman Mansion project. Although the weather conditions were miserable, the visit was excellent and provided some immediate beneficial input. When the full TAN report is available, a special news edition is planned to relay the information.

Recommendation. Several wall and floor sections should be shored up with posts, jacks, or cribbing in larger areas. For safety some of these supports will need to be in place before the general cleanup.

Debris Removal. Large amounts of building debris and general detritus litter the floors. A large section of the rear wing's second level flooring has collapsed onto the first floor. This material prevents access to several areas, holds damp, attracts pests, and is a general safety hazard.

Recommendation. The debris and collapsed materials should be removed and the unsound bricks, flooring and joists, and other elements removed.

Animal Infiltration. Birds, hogs, woodchucks, raccoons, and possums have inhabited the building over the years.

Recommendation. Elimination of the present occupants by live trapping and then closing all means of egress. Window and door blinding is recommended.

Drainage. Rising damp and general runoff have caused serious structural problems.

Recommendation. Runoff from the upslope area along with the general buildup of debris around the exterior walls should be addressed. All water runoff should be directed away form the house. Tilling on the upslope side may be necessary to reduce groundwater and rising damp.

Planning and Goals: Stabilization and Restoration

This is an outline and timeline to stabilize the building so that further deterioration is halted. Restoration of the interior may be several years along and interior wall support, debris removal, animal infiltration, and drainage.

  • Years 1-3: The initial stabilization and of the residence should involve roof replacement, structural support and bracing, and overall weather tightness including portal closure. Roof construction and debris removal is recommended only after sufficient supports have been installed to insure safety. Once stabilized, use the rear section for materials storage and concentrate on the main (front) section. Address site security and safety.
  • Years 4-7: Once minimal structural stability has been reached, including drainage and grading, interior and exterior structural concerns can be addressed. The replacement of collapsed or compromised sections of load bearing walls should be addressed. Window and door replacement, exterior millwork, an assessment for the reconstruction of the original entryway and porch can be undertaken. Tuck-pointing can be considered.
  • Years 7-10: Restoration of the main (front) section of the house should begin. As much original historic fabric (i.e. original materials, should be maintained). The chimneystacks and flues should be examined and a plan made for their cosmetic replacement. Pieces of window casings and shutters should be studied and a plan for replacing the windows initiated.
  • Years 11-20: Final completion of all interior and exterior structural elements should be accomplished. Other efforts: period interior decoration and furnishings compiled, yard and surrounding grounds landscaping and reconstruction, driveway and parking, sidewalks, fencing, hitching posts, and other period and modern details archaeological assessment of the yard.
  • Conclusions: Clearly the restoration of the Herriman Mansion from a near ruin to a habitable historical residence is a major undertaking and long-term project that should be undertaken in the phases outlined above. While the resource has serious structural problems they can all be fixed and the resource saved if work starts very soon. The building is already in such a state of decay that immediate intervention is recommended. The roof and structural support issues need to be addressed on an emergency basis as this building is clearly in danger of severe structural failure. It is recommended that emergency grant funds be made available for the replacement of the roof and for the installation of structural supports.

Request Full TAN Report

If you would like the complete TAN Report, send Everett Zupke a letter or email and request a copy. It will be sent by email if an email address is available

Herriman Mansion website

Issue Number 3 of the newsletter has been added to the website. This special EXTRA issue will also be added as soon as possible.

Other Task Updates

The TAN visit has already provided important feedback and the report will include significant guidance to aid all of the project tasks including guidance for applying for REAP/HRDP grants. REAP/HRDP provides resources to preserve, conserve, interpret and educate the public about Iowa's historical resources. The TAN visit is designed to provide guidance and advice for this effort.

Hiring a professional (see the Grants and Aid item below) to prepare the application is a very important step in the march toward being listed on the National Register. While some funds are potentially available with the Certification of Eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places, listing is necessary to be eligible for much of the private and government funding available.

Ed Gage is contacting the property owner, Mr. Eldon Lenth, and to determine what negotiations need to be initiated to establish the specific conditions for acquiring the Herriman Mansion and the needed land surrounding it to support the restoration project.


Cash donations have been received in the amount of $520. In addition, there have been contributions "in kind" with a value of between $2000 and $2500.

Grants and Aid

As mentioned by Marlin in his report, emergency grant funds, if available, should be provided to address the immediate near-term stabilization needed. Also, need to apply for additional grants to provide for the required permanent structural replacement required to accomplish long-term stabilization and environmental protection and start the restoration of significantly deteriorated structures. In parallel there should be funds requested to assist with the full application for formal National Register status.

Next Issue of the Bugle

I plan for another issue to be out in mid-July. Tentatively, I plan to be in Iowa in late June for a family reunion and to meet with as many people as possible about this project. Send inputs by US mail or email, i.e., any suggestions on content or material to be included.

Previous Issues of the Brick Board Bugle

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