Renovation work a window to Montgomery history


Posted by: Mark Bullock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A large-scale renovation project is getting underway at Montgomery's city hall. The first phase involves the restoration of the building's 70-year-old rolled steel windows. And the work is uncovering a window to history.

Members of Old House Specialists, the firm in charge of the project, definitely have their work cut out for them. City hall has 225 windows. And each requires up to thirty hours to restore.

"It's a monster of a project," said Larry Dubose. "It's real meticulous work because you want to keep the window in its original state."

Dubose and his co-workers are faced with metal windows covered with rust, rot and peeling paint.

Old House Specialists Founder Hilda Dent says the finished windows will be more energy efficient and help keep the building's historic integrity in tact.

"These windows have been here for 74 years. I don't see any signs of them going anywhere," she said. "I'd hate to see how much you'd tear up the building by trying to rip them out."

The window work is about half-way finished at a cost of about $150,000 so far. The overall renovation of city hall is likely to cost between $5 million and $6 million.

But what makes this story even more interesting is not the type of work being done, but the way in which it's being funded.

Built in 1936, Montgomery's city hall is a product of the Works Progress Administration, a federal program that put unemployed people to work in the wake of the great depression.

Seventy years later, the new renovation project is also a product of federal funding -- a grant from the president's economic stimulus package.

"I find it very poetic that, in what people are calling the worst recession since the great depression, people are once again being put to work on this building," Dent said.

The work is also giving Dent's employees a chance to learn new skills, which will help them get more work in the future. And in the process, they're helping to preserve a glimpse through the panes of Montgomery's past.

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