Wapsipinicon Mill now #2 on Iowa's most endangered places list - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Wapsipinicon Mill now #2 on Iowa's most endangered places list

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INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -

The Wapsipinicon Mill in Independence is now considered one of our state's most endangered buildings.  The mill has been a fixture along the Buchanan County town's river banks for nearly 150 years.  But the age of the building a years of water damage mean the mill is now in need of some serious repairs. 

The Buchanan County Historical Society wanted the Wapsi Mill to get placed on Iowa's endangered buildings list and hopes to get it on a similar national list.  That's because it could open up new funding resources to help the mill make repairs.

The Wapsi mill is a unique, historical structure in Independence.

"It was built in 1867 to 1870.  It's one of the icons of the community and of Iowa," said Leanne Harrison, Buchanan Co. Historical Society president.

From the fourth floor, there's a bird's eye view of the entire town.  But it's also the spot where you can see the mill's age and need for repair.  There are holes in the roof and rotting timber beams from frequent flooding and the constant mist sprayed onto the mill from the nearby dam.  And anytime it rains more than an inch, historical society members have to rush to the mill and turn on the sump pump to prevent water damage throughout the building.

"It's not just putting on a new roof.  That wouldn't be so bad if that was the case.  But it's lifting up the roof to replace those big timbers," Harrison said.

Making those repairs will cost almost $500,000.  Half of that money's been secured through fundraising and grants.  And now that the mill's been listed as an endangered place by Iowa Preservation, it could be eligible for additional grant funding.

"The actual dam is in with the foundation of the north end of the mill.  So if you lost the mill, in a sense you'd be losing the dam also.  And there wouldn't be a river.  There'd be a crick!" said Harrison.

And repairing the mill will help keep the important piece of Independence history alive for generations to come.

The Buchanan Co. Historical Society plans to put a metal roof on the mill to minimize future water damage from rain, snow and mist from the dam.  It hopes repairs can begin next summer.

To learn more about the mill and how to donate to the historical society, click here.

Also making the 2012 endangered places list in eastern Iowa:  People's Bank & Trust in Cedar Rapids and the Winneshiek County Home and Farm Caretaker's House.  Those locations could also now be eligible for additional grant funding for repairs and ongoing maintenance.  To find out more information on all of Iowa's top 10 endangered places, click here.

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