Another study is on the horizon for the Blue Building as a Cornell University student wants to intern with the city and perform an analysis on the oft-studied structure.
Jordan Cleek has asked the city for permission to be its intern this summer and examine the building to determine possible future uses. She obtained her undergraduate degree at Tennessee Tech in civil engineering. Now, she is a graduate student at Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., studying to be a preservation architect and needs a project.
The information was presented during a city Building and Grounds Committee meeting by Alderman Steve Harvey, who is chairman of the committee.
“It’s a split payment between Cornell,” said Harvey in reference to how much this may cost the city. “It’s 200 hours of work at $3,750. Cornell pays for half.”
According to Alderman Jimmy Bonner, there have been 11 studies on the Blue Building at a cost of around $100,000. The Blue Building has been vacant since November 2009.
In attendance at the meeting was McMinnville Heritage Preservation president Neil Schultz, who voiced his support for the study and offered to attempt to fundraise the city’s portion of the funds, which would be $1,875.
“My main person was George Burk at one time. He thought there was a lot of potential in that building to bring activity to downtown McMinnville. The more that can be learned about it, the more we feel like can come to fruition,” said Schultz.
He presented a history of the building written by former county historian James Dillon. The house, built by John Pickett for his brother James, was completed in June 1871. Changing private hands over the years, it was eventually purchased for public use by the Board of Education in 1915 as a school, and later the city of McMinnville for offices.
Schultz says it’s time to focus on the future.
“James Dillon did a very good article on it several years ago. Rehash and going over past history will not gain us anything,” said Schultz. “We feel like the Blue Building has potential and y’all are the people who can put that potential to work. This project sounds good and we’ll be glad to support it. We can donate to the project.”
When asked by Alderman Ben Newman what kind of support the organization is offering in the city’s half of the $3,750, Schultz stated, “As I understand it, it’s not that big an outlay. That is within our ability to raise.”
Citing all the past studies, Alderman Bonner said he doesn’t feel another one is necessary. However, he voted for the study because it is not expected to cost taxpayers money.
“I’m not in favor of any more studies on the Blue Building,” said Bonner. “However, since we aren’t paying for this study, I voted in favor of it. Counting this one, we have done 11 studies on the Blue Building. We’ve spent approximately $100,000 on those studies.”
Harvey, Newman and Bonner voted unanimously to allow Cleek to intern for the city and conduct a study of the Blue Building.