TUSCUMBIA Visitors to the City Hall open house Thursday were greeted with an historic mural at the entrance and impressive restoration throughout the building.
The building is the former downtown post office on Sixth Street, near Dickson Street.
Residents who visited were complimentary of the work and thankful the historical building is being put to valuable use.
“I’m glad they did this and were able to save it,” said Harold Maples, who was a longtime postal worker at the building.
The building is about a block from the old City Hall, which it shared with the Utilities Department. The department owned the building and the city paid $1,200 a month to rent its portion.
Tuscumbia has needed larger accommodations for years, officials said. Shelves, rooms and the basement were filled with records that must be kept, some dating to the 1800s.
The city purchased the former post office building from businessman Harvey Robbins for $129,000 in 2009.
The building was closed in 2004 after a new post office was built along U.S. 72.
The U.S. Postal Service sold the Sixth Street building to Robbins at the same cost in February 2005. The building has about 6,400 square feet, 3,200 each on the main floor and basement.
A 10-year, $275,000 loan at 3.5 percent interest is helping to offset construction costs, which were more than $600,000. In addition, the city had $250,000 from its capital improvement fund for the project.
Mayor Bill Shoemaker said city labor was used whenever possible to reduce costs. In addition, Fire Chief David Cole, who has a background as a contractor, oversaw the operation to avoid paying a lead contractor.
Shoemaker commended the work Cole and others did and thanked city employees and the public for their patience, especially during the period when they were moving to the new building.
“Thank goodness for a good team,” Shoemaker said.
As with most construction projects, there were problems along the way. During work on the front steps, it was discovered that there was a hole beneath the steps.
That caused leaks and other issues that needed to be resolved.
Daily work wasn’t made easy, as many walls are 18 inches thick, Cole said.
“There were a lot of challenges,” he said. “This was an old fallout shelter so all the walls are thick masonry, which made any penetration a challenge.”
Throughout the process, a mural of Chief Tuscumbia greeting Michael Dickson and his family upon their arrival was preserved.
The 5- by 12-foot mural now hangs on the wall that is on the left side of the City Hall entrance.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.
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