114 North Main Street

September 8, 2020

Kevin Berger

Culver, projects

114 N. Main last Fall

We’re working with Bob Nowalk on the the renovation of his property at 114 North Main Street in Culver. Sometimes buildings are historic and sometimes they are just old. This building does have some history, but not much of its facade was reminiscent of that history. Stepping back through time, this building was Michelle’s Head Quarters, Zeke’s Arcade, J’s 5 & …, The Dime Store and a Ben Franklin Store. (I tried to find Jeff Kinney’s “A Walk Down Main Street” story on this building, but finally gave up)

Early photographs that Bob found showed a wood store front which has been gone for decades. He considered going back to that, but not only would it increase the upkeep costs, it also would not have been in keeping with the character of the rest of the block. In the end, he chose to go with a new brick facade, but change the entrance location to provide a more modern, accessible approach. This also gives him more continuous window space for displays. A picture from the the Culver Union Township Public Library website shows the brick facade was there in the 50’s, but not the green aluminium store front we just removed.

Proposed Facade Sketch

A former student of Bob’s did the rough design for the renovation and this is what we based our construction on. It shows the entrance relocated to the left. It remains recessed. We are keeping the same stepped parapet at the top. In lieu of the named marker on the parapet, Bob chose to go with a more simple, address marker. Bob also chose to reduce the marker, so it won’t be quite as prominent in the picture.

114 on the Road…

Bob went with a natural, sandblasted limestone sign, so it will fit with some of the other building markers downtown. Unlike the one to the south on the Marmont Lodge Building, 114’s sign has the characters cut in relief. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do, so this is the marker making its way to Culver via car trunk…

Meager framing exposed after parapet was removed.

Once the brick demolition was completed, we found a couple of additional issues. 1) The structural steel beam was in reasonable condition, particularly considering it was oversized, but it was not properly supported. The fact that it was supported by the facade brick probably contributed to some of the brick deterioration. There was no lateral support for the steel beam either. It was stabilized by a 2 x 12 which had been mitered down to only a 2 x 4’s worth of bearing. 2) The parapet had been constructed using ceramic block. When the block was uncovered, we found that they were severely deteriorated and had to be removed as well.

Block backer in place and brick facade partially complete.

To correct the above issues, we installed structural steel columns. We used C channel columns to minimize the footprint. These were bolted to the columns and the existing beam. We were mainly concerned about bearing, not uplift in this condition. For lateral stabilization, we tied the beam back to the existing ceiling joists using 2 x 8’s. The ceiling joist were pocketed into the existing side walls, so they were stable. we attached the 2 x 8’s at 24″ o/c across four joists anchoring them at each crossing creating a gridwork and thus, a diaphragm frame. To replace the ceramic block we used 4″ concrete block to create a backer for the brick facade and to help support the limestone caps.

As soon as the brick work is done, we’ll be able to order the glass and proceed with the store front aluminum. Bob plans to open an art gallery and small event space here. 114 North Main Street will become The Unintended Curator. This should prove a nice addition to the downtown and I’m sure people will soon forget what the building even looked like before.

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