City commission to consider funding repairs at historic building | News

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City commission to consider funding repairs at historic building

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The building that houses City Hall and the Lightner Museum is an iconic structure in St. Augustine.

Henry Flagler built it as a hotel in the late 1800s.

It's in need of repair.

This week, the St. Augustine City Commission will discuss funding for the much needed repairs.

Nowhere is the damage more obvious than on the fourth floor.

The water damage on the ceiling of the fourth floor above the Lightner Museum is so bad that the plaster is falling off in large chunks.  

"Every time it rains, we make sure it's covered," Bob Harper said. He's the Lightner Museum Director who showed First Coast News the fourth floor. It's used for storage and is closed to the public.

Buckets sit under the openings in the ceiling.

"We have to make sure the buckets don't overflow. Otherwise, it tends up downstairs in the exhibit areas."

Those exhibit areas are below, and they appear full of artwork and collections.

"There's a saying," Harper added, "that all museums are icebergs and you really only see the tip of the iceberg. This iceberg is starting to melt!"

City of St. Augustine's Jim Piggot said the building needs roof repairs, new windows and, and the outside needs to be sealed. He said it's expected to cost $ 1.9 million.

City commissioners meet Wednesday and it's expected they will start a grant approval process to put up half of a $350,000 grant to repair the 125-year old building.

It's a building that many adore, including Harper.

"I guess I've spent most of my life in this building now. I have an affinity for the building and the collection," he noted.

He added that seeing the ceiling falling-in in places is "very sad. Very frustrating. Very heartbreaking."


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