Memorial Hall is a former library, city hall and jail at Railroad and North 4th streets in Ironton, Ohio. It was mostly demolished in 2014.
Memorial Hall, designed by Yost and Packard Architectural firm of Columbus, was constructed for $20,000 9 to honor Civil War veterans. 4 It was dedicated to the Grand Army of the Republic, the Women’s Relief Corps, American Expeditionary Forces, and the Spanish-American War soldiers on September 22, 1892. 1 The original deed from 1889 stated that the building could be used only for Union soldiers, their widows, and orphans and that it would contain a library and be a place for “relics of a patriotic nature.” 9
In 1905, a fire burned most of the structure that left only the front stone facade and tower, taking with it the Briggs Public Library. 1 2 The building was soon rebuilt and used solely as a library. Memorial Hall also suffered from the Ohio River floods of 1913 and 1933 but no major damage was reported. 4
After the library moved out in the 1960s, Memorial Hall was reused as a city jail and hall until 1996 3 when both entities moved out because of a deteriorating roof, floor joists, and stairs. 4
A strong thunderstorm damaged the front entrance framing of the building after a sudden drop in barometric pressure caused a vortex to form inside on August 16, 2007. 4 An assessment report from an inspector was not promising which stated that while the exterior was in great condition, the inside was in “dire shape.” 5
The inspector recommended the city either tear down or restore Memorial Hall, which was estimated to cost $200,000 and $7.7 million, respectively. 5 A third option would be to gut the building and to erect a steel structure inside to keep the building standing as a monument with an estimated cost of $500,000. The interior would require a complete removal in all of the options because of structural concerns, 5 7 lead paint, and asbestos. 5 The city pursued grants for further structural assessment. 7
At a city meeting on June 24, 2008, architects Walker & Associates presented a plan to raze the interior of Memorial Hall, install steel bracing for support, and the conversion of the interior into a park with a stage at the cost of $240,000. 8 9 The bracing would be load-bearing so that in the future, floors could be re-installed. 9
On November 24, representatives from American Legion Post 433 stated that they would join other veterans groups in an attempt to rebuild Memorial Hall 10 and sought the support of other local veterans groups. 11 It hosted the Memorial Hall Festival in an attempt to raise funds on August 15, 2009, and later started the Veterans Memorial Hall Restoration Fund, a nonprofit founded for the purpose of the building’s restoration. 12
Post 433 had hoped to receive a grant from the federal government for $2.4 million, but in order to obtain the grant, Post 433 would have needed to own the building. 12 The city had planned to transfer the building to the Ironton Port Authority, who would have then transferred it to the non-profit if it could raise $500,000 towards the restoration within two years. Unfortunately, Post 433 was only able to raise $20,000 12 and gave up their private fundraising efforts. 13
A detailed structural assessment of Memorial Hall was conducted on May 6, 2011, 12 which recommended that the building be demolished at the cost of $250,000 because of restoration costs that were estimated at nearly $8 million. 13 In early 2012, the city approached the county about the possibility of transferring ownership of Memorial Hall from the city to the county. 13 The county would then apply for a $1 million Homeland Security grant to renovate the building into a countywide emergency operations center, but the idea was shelved over financial concerns. 13
Bids were solicited for the partial demolition of Memorial Hall in early 2014, 14 with a contract awarded to Southern Ohio Salvage in June. 15 Work progressed by the company shortly after. 16 17
[su_spoiler title=”Sources” icon=”caret”]
- Kouns, Sharon Milich. “Ironton through the years.” Lawrence Register. 24 Jan. 2004.
- Kounse, Martha J. “Chronological year of events of Lawrence County Ohio.” Lawrence Register. 2 Jan. 2004.
- Hager, Sharon Gossett. “Historic Homes of Ironton, Ohio.” Lawrence County Recorder. 15 July 2006.
- Shaffer, Mark. “Old city hall damaged.” Ironton Tribune 28 Aug. 2007.
- Shaffer, Mark. “Council in limbo on Memorial Hall.” Ironton Tribune 28 Aug. 2007.
- Unger, Joe. “Memorial Hall logical site for veterans’ home.” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington) 12 March 1999.
- Shaffer, Mark. “City looks to save Ro-Na.” Ironton Tribune 6 June 2008.
- Shaffer, Mark. “Memorial Hall ideas discussed.” Ironton Tribune 24 June 2008.
- Shaffer, Mark. “Architect talks about possible building uses.” Ironton Tribune 29 July 2008.
- Greene, Rick. “Vets to take shot at Memorial Hall.” Ironton Tribune 25 Nov. 2008.
- Heath, Benita. “Festival to raise funds for Memorial Hall.” Ironton Tribune 1 Aug. 2009.
- Kersey, Lori. “Coming Down Soon?” Ironton Tribune. 25 April 2011. 6 May 2011.
- Heath, Benita. “Memorial Hall might get new owners.” Ironton Tribune 19 Jan. 2012.
- “Memorial Hall demo discussed by council.” Ironton Tribune 3 Mar. 2014.
- “2 bids received for demo.” Ironton Tribune 9 Apr. 2014: n. pag.
- “Memorial Hall demo necessary.” Ironton Tribune 1 June 2014: n. pag.
- Roberts, Brandon. “Memorial Hall demo progressing.” Ironton Tribune 10 June 2014: n. pag.