Construction Update

Over the years, the Mormon Print Shop Museum condition, including the front porch and old back room, deteriorated such that it no longer served the community adequately. With the construction of a new addition, there will be opportunities to display professionally designed museum exhibits and provide additional outdoor programming.

The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that a legacy benefactor, George Bisbee of Jackson MI, provided the Society just over $500,000, which will be used for financing the Print Shop Addition, including some of the exhibits. The Board is also grateful to the many Island benefactors who have supported the expansion concept and contributed to the capital campaign already and to those future benefactors who will continue to support the Society in fulfilling the vision to share the unique historical stories of the Archipelago through the renovated and expanded museum.

Architectural services are being provided pro-bono by Ebersoldt + Associates Architects, and its owner, Vince Ebersoldt, a long-time Island visitor, Island property owner and benefactor, as well as a BIHS Trustee. The Board of Trustees are extremely grateful to Vince and his team for the work they are doing on behalf of the Society, helping to keep Island History Alive!

The Beaver Island Historical Society (BIHS) hired McDonough Construction to complete the porch project, remove the old back room, and advise the architect regarding the new addition. A contract regarding the new addition has yet to be established with any firm.

The front porch was removed and replaced during the Fall of 2018.  The old back room was also removed. An Archaeology group from Northern Michigan University will perform an extensive investigation beneath the old back room in the spring so the site is cleared for future construction work.

At an Island-wide meeting at the Library on November 5, 2018 exterior building plans were presented to the public.   Overwhelming public support was received.  The new proposed addition is much smaller than the version that was offered several years ago.  In fact, that building addition fit on additional property and this version fits on existing property.  It is a single-story building, less than 2,000sf, with a cathedral ceiling.

The new modern exhibit room will have a handicap accessible entrance, a cathedral ceiling to permit an open room concept, moveable exhibits and an outdoor plaza that is accessed by a wide slider door for outdoor programming.  There will be a small classroom and a room adjacent the exhibit room for collections and archival storage.

Early on in our discussions, BIHS and the Architect agreed to approach the project as if it fell under the current state and federal standards for an Historic Preservation Project utilizing state and federal Historic Tax Credits.  We should point out immediately the project is not eligible for any Historic Tax Credits (HTC’s) as it is owned by the BIHS, a not for profit agency, but the standards for a project utilizing HTC’s are stringent and helpful to anyone interested in renovating or restoring an older building with respect for maintaining its historic integrity.  That being said, we have had preliminary, informal discussions with the Michigan SHPO and are comfortable our design meets or exceeds what their minimum standards would be if we were utilizing HTC’s.

As a result of initial informal SHPO feedback, the Architect’s vast experience with Historic Projects, and the input of the BIHS Board as it pertained to architectural program needs, construction budget, and other important factors / desires, the current design was developed.  Its key characteristics are as follows.

The addition should, in coordination with typical SHPO and National Park Service feedback, complement the existing historic Print Shop but not attempt to copy it in any overtly obvious or identical manner.  There should be a clear obvious line between the original structure and the addition.  Between the BIHS Board and the Architect, we further agreed the following design concepts should guide our actions:

  • The height of the roof peak of the addition should stay below the height of the roof peak of the existing print shop structure. This has been accomplished by holding the roof peak of the addition at approximately 18” lower than the roof peak of the print shop.
  • The physical connection between the existing print shop structure and the new addition is necessary for the operation of the museum but should be minimized so that addition seems to be ‘linked together’ by a secondary connector. This has been accomplished by a lower roof ‘connector piece’ between the original existing structure and the main portion of the new addition.  This also allowed us to maintain the current west facade windows of the original existing structure in place.
  • The finish materials of the new addition should complement the existing historic structure without copying its details. This has been accomplished by utilizing siding materials and patterns that do not copy the original structure, but do not blatantly contradict them either.
  • The color of the new addition should stand in ‘subtle contrast’ to the existing historic structure in order to identify it as complementary, but not create confusion as to what the historic portions are versus what the new portions are. This has been accomplished by having the connector piece and the main portion of the new addition be muted shades of slate blue to mimic the color of the sky during cloudy and stormy days on the island.  Any red colors were deemed too similar to Daddy Frank’s.  Any shade of tan or brown was deemed too similar to the Fur Trading structure directly to the west.
  • The new addition should be as small as possible, square footage wise, to accommodate all of our exhibit and programmatic needs while maintaining a manageable construction cost. The new addition in total is less than 2,000sf and estimated to cost less than $500,000, well within the amount we currently have on hand for construction of the addition itself.
  • The new addition should be able to serve as a ‘community building’ in addition to its foundational use as an exhibit-based museum. This has been accomplished by opening up the north face of the facade with a 12’-0” wide set of glass doors that extends from the museum addition out to a public courtyard along Forrest Ave that can be utilized for outdoor performances, spill over space after hours from Daddy Frank’s, or even outdoor classroom space.  We have also approached exhibit design standards as being movable and flexible to allow for reconfiguration and reorganization of hierarchy of exhibits on an annual basis while also allowing us to move them to utilize the new addition as a public building as needed.
  • The new addition should be as green as possible from an energy consumption aspect. This is an ongoing coordination item but has led us to minimize window openings as much as possible, while also providing sliding insulated doors to cover the larger window / door openings during the winter months to not only provide for additional insulation but also to minimize sunlight hitting exhibits and damaging them over time.

The reconstruction of the rear addition was based on a cultural landscape survey of the downtown area along with an assessment of Michigan SHPO and National Park Service historic requirements which helped determine the finish materials and colors noted above.  The design is similar to a Great Lakes / Cape Cod style with a gable roof of perpendicular orientation to the Print Shop and includes vertical board and batten siding

Over the past year the BIHS Board and Architect have given intense thought to what this new design can provide to the Beaver Island Community while equally respecting the history of the Mormon Print Shop.  We look forward to serving the public in our new space with a target opening date of May 2020.    If you would like to help fund the new exhibits please click the link below to make a donation of any size.