- Associated Press - Saturday, June 28, 2014

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Two old-fashioned, manual elevators may get replaced in a Sioux City building.

Rising costs and a change in ownership may require the switch to modern elevators. The elevators at the Insurance Exchange Building could get replaced this fall, according to the Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/1yX3vc3 ).

The elevator’s longtime operators say it would mean the end of an era, because the older machinery gives the building its charm.

“I’d be sad to see the old elevators go, because when I was a kid, this was the only kind they had,” said operator Pam Cotton.

Cotton, 69, has run the elevator most afternoons for 12 years. She ushers passengers from floor to floor with a small metal handle that controls the speed and direction of the carriage. A wall panel flickering with tiny call lights tells her where she’s needed.

The six-story building was constructed in 1917. From 1944 to 1948, it housed city offices after the old City Hall burned.

Cotton said she’d never seen an automatic elevator until she was in her teens.

“There used to be lots of manual elevators around Sioux City,” she said. “I remember rotary telephones, too. And computers. When I was a kid, they took up a whole room. Now everybody’s got one in their house.”

Brad Cummings bought the building in May. He says maintaining technology from 1917 is too expensive.

“It’s just not feasible,” Cummings said. “The state inspections are getting more and more costly. Nobody wants to have them anymore. The inspection costs and the employment costs and workman’s comp makes it very difficult to keep them.”

He said the old machines can also be an inconvenience for some of his tenants who need 24-hour, 7-day-a-week access. One tenant who works weekends has to walk up the stairs to his floor because the elevators aren’t operating.

Operator Adam Pickhinke, 37, said it would be a little sad to see the job go.

“It’s fun, but sometimes things just change,” he said. “I’ll have to deal with it. I’ve been here three years, so the job’s gotten kind of old anyway.”

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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