WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Fundraising for Keokuk Depot Roof Continues Despite Reaching Goal

Dec 12, 2016

The effort to raise money to pay for the restoration of the Keokuk Union Depot’s roof has reached a milestone. But there is still more work to do before the fundraising is complete.

In 2014, the Keokuk Union Depot Foundation estimated the roof would cost about $1-million.

At that time, the Jeffris Family Foundation (JFF) out of Wisconsin agreed to contribute $333,000 if local supporters could raise the remaining $667,000. The JFF funds historic preservation efforts throughout the Midwest.

Janet Smith, President of the Keokuk Union Depot Foundation, announced this month that the local match has been secured, one year ahead of schedule. She said donations have come in from throughout Keokuk and across the country.

“People were stuffing dollar bills in containers next to the depot model that has been around the Keokuk area in various locations,” said Smith. “And then we received $100,000 in grants from the state of Iowa. A lot of donors from the Keokuk area, a lot of donors nationwide who have connections to Keokuk. There have also been a lot of railroad enthusiasts who have contributed.”

Crews have been working on the roof since 2015, even without all of the money in place.

Smith said during year one, the chimney was restored and raised to its original height while this year, the central tower was rebuilt to its original height with turrets, red clay tiles and gutters.

She said unfortunately, it was determined during that work that the roof was in much worse shape than anticipated. She said that’s why it will cost another $250,000 to complete the roof restoration.

“There were structural issues that required more money than originally anticipated,” said Smith. “For example, when the eaves were opened up in 2015, it was determined that the support of the brackets that hold the roof were not sufficient to hold the roof for another 100 years. So we had to bring in structural engineers and rework the masonry pockets that hold the brackets that hold the roof. That was a substantial increase in our costs.”

Smith said when it comes to the actual roof restoration, all that remains is the installation of red clay tiles and copper gutters on the up-river and down-river ends of the roof. She said once that work is complete, the roof will be complete, about two years ahead of schedule.

Smith hopes to have the additional $250,000 raised by Sept. 30, 2017.

Once the roof is finished, the focus is expected to turn inside the building.

Smith said a kitchen and improve bathrooms are needed to accommodate the growing use of the building, be it class reunions, concerts or receptions.