Historic Pope Tavern in Florence getting repairs

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FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) - The signs of rising dampness and the damage it leaves behind are evident in several rooms at the nearly 200-year-old Pope’s Tavern museum.

Plaster has cracked away from the hand-made brick in the bedroom on the northeast side of the building, revealing crumbling brick. Next to the fireplace in the large dining room, plaster has fallen and the mantle is beginning to separate from the wall.

“This is not ordinary plaster,” Wayne Higgins, curator of the museum, said. “And we must repair the brick underneath first.”

The City Council recently approved a $21,482 contract with Johnny’s Home Restoration to repair the damage. Barbara Broach, director of the city museum system, said Johnny Johnson has extensive knowledge of historic restoration and has worked on a number of historic homes in Florence.

Broach said this will be the first major restoration work at Pope’s Tavern since 1988.

“We have done minor repairs through the years, face-lift type things,” she said. “We have also put a new floor in the kitchen, but this will be the biggest outlay of money since 1988.”

The brick building, at Hermitage Drive and Seminary Street, was purchased by the city in 1965, and a collection of antiquities housed in a basement on the University of North Alabama campus was moved there.

The collection has expanded through the years, and includes a variety of items associated with the history of Florence.

The building has seen a number of uses through the years, including as a field hospital for both Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War.

It is one of the oldest brick structures in northwest Alabama.

Todd Nix, director of Community Services, which oversees museums as well as the Parks and Recreation Department, said the plaster repair work is the beginning of a multi-year maintenance plan for the museum.

“This is a several-year project to maintain the historical integrity and the structure,” he said. “We are looking at ways to control the water from wicking up through the brick. That type of brick is porous, and it wicks groundwater.”

Higgins said the floor was built close to the ground, allowing moisture to rise through the old brick.

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Information from: TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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