The Raney House, an 1836 Greek Revival home built by one of Apalachicola’s founding families, is undergoing a major effort to ensure it continues to shine for years to come.
Funded by a $311,000 special category grant from the Florida Division of Historic Resources, work began this week on a multifaceted plan to replace many of the windows as well as the front columns, and to repaint the exterior.
Caty Greene wrote the state grant on behalf of the Apalachicola Area Historical Society, which manages the city-owned house as a museum.
She said the city has pledged $15,000 for the project, and the Community Redevelopment Agency provided $25,000 prior to the CRA being dismantled a few years ago.
The rest of the matching funds, which is 25 percent of the funding, has been met by personal donations from throughout the community as well as in-kind contributions.
Architect J.J. Scott, with the Tallahassee firm of MLD Architects LLC, is overseeing the project, with OliverSperry Renovation & Construction, based in Tallahassee, serving as the general contractor.
OliverSperry is also doing work on two of the city’s more historic buildings, the Apalachicola Center for History, Culture and the Arts (HCA), at the corner of Water Street and Avenue F. and the old City Hall, across the street.
Volunteers from the historical society on Sunday prepared the interior of the building for the work, by removing items from behind the windows, and storing and covering the antique tables, chairs and china from the two large downstairs rooms of the house,
On Monday, workers from subcontractor Patriot Coatings and Concrete Restoration began work on the exterior by doing a soft pressure wash which will remove the chipped paint, and prepare the outside for repainting.
Barry Miller, an expert in historic preservation work from Tallahassee’s Rose Boulevard, will then handle the delicate task of refurbishing the original windows on the nearly two-century-old house. Greene said he’ll do six at a time, seeing what wood in the frame needs to be replaced, and will eventually complete all the windows on the first floor, and two on the third floor.
In the interim the window openings will be secured by plexiglass, Green said, with the hope being that the Raney House will be able to remain open throughout the contracting work.
OliverSperry will be replacing the four columns in front, which were put in by the Raney family a little more than a decade after the house was built, and have been replaced several times since, most recently believed to be at least three decades ago.
The 20-foot tall columns, which are enduring extensive rot, will be replaced by new ones which feature steel supports inside that will ensure they remain strong and supportive of the overhang above them.
Greene said he hopes the columns can be removed largely intact, and then cut into pieces so people can obtain them for use as planters or boxes.
The new columns will come in as two half-circles which will be joined around the steel supports.
“They’ll look exactly the same, fluted and tapered,” Greene said.
City Manager Travis Wade said OliverSperry’s work on the HCA is being funded by a National Park Service hurricane mitigation grant.
He said the workers will remove two of the three front doors and replace that with a wall, to better protect against potential storm damage, and will treat the brick on both the inside and outside to better prevent water damage.
Wade said the City Hall work will bring up the floor and level it out with the rest of the floor in the historic building, as well as shore up the walls where they are mortised into the concrete foundation.