What was old is new again in Rowley as the three-elevator complex nears its renovation completion.
Regardless of age, the elevators remain the pride of the Starland County hamlet.
This spring, the Rowley Community Association was granted $525,000 to refurbish the three historic resources that have come to symbolize the history of the hamlet and the Alberta prairies.
“This was a dream come true, not just for us, but for everybody,” said Lorraine Foesier of Rowley. “The whole community is so happy. The visitors are coming to see them.”
The dream was realized as the elevators received new shingles, repaired siding, new skirting at the base, windows, screens and some foundation work.
This was topped off with a new coat of paint.
“We’re done the outside for this year,” said Gerald Foesier, adding they are still looking to do some clean up on the interior, but that is yet to be determined.
Lorraine adds with a grin that Pizza Night this coming Saturday would be a good chance to check out the progress.
The money for the project was announced towards the end of April. The main contractor, Blue Bronna of Three Hills, was on site by the beginning of May. Some 4,000 contractor hours later, on July 13 they pulled out, later returning paint.
Foesier says along with the contractor’s work, there wereabout 1,500 volunteer hours put into the project, as well as about $70,000 in labour, material and donated equipment.
The project became more involved as they began work on the foundations of the structures. Gerald said the elevators have been stabilized, so as not to deteriorate any more than they have, however more will work will need to be done in the future.
“I told him like in the Bible, you have to build on a firm foundation, but he said a firm foundation is no good if the roof is leaking onto it,” said Lorraine. “So we did it in the right order, we fixed the roof and then the foundation.”
One addition to the elevators that may not have been exactly original are the windows and screens. They will help maintain the integrity of the building not by what they support, but what they keep out… pigeons. Stan Gardner of Erskine built the windows and Creative Machining of Stettler made the screens.
The UGG elevator is the eldest of the three dating back to 1917, the Searle was erected in 1923 and the Pool elevator went up in 1940. In keeping with historical authenticity, care was taken to paint the original logos from the time period on the elevators.
This project has become a sort of template for other elevators in Alberta that may be refurbished in the future. Lorraine says each step of the renovations and repairs was documented by Alberta Historical Resources. The contractor is also to submit a report to the government. This information will help the department in estimating further projects.
“When they go to the next one they are going to know what to look for,” said Lorraine. For example, she said, the contractor made sure to assess the condition of the foundation before they began working at the top of the building.
“They (the government) are going to use this information so when another elevator comes along they are going to know what it is going to cost and what it is going to entail,” said Gerald.
While they are happy with the results it is never a completed project. The community is planning to apply for funding next year to finish the foundations and the driveways.