The Searcy City Council on Tuesday night accepted a $174,180 bid for repairs to the historic Black House.
The bid from OCJ, doing business as Connell Construction, was nearly $86,000 less than the only other bid the city received, The only other bid came from Wagner General Contractors, Inc. for $259,900 from Wagner General Contractors Inc. Architect Barry Hoffmann said both companies are local firmes.
Hoffmann said bids were advertised two consecutive Sundays. He recommended Connell Construction for the restoration project, telling the council that the company did the recent restoration work on the clock tower at the White County Courthouse.
For the Black House at 300 E. Race Ave., which is owned by the city and houses the Searcy Art Gallery, Hoffmann said in April the repairs would mainly consist of “a paint job, but there’s a lot of deterioriation that needs to be taken care of in this phase.”
At the time, when asked by Councilman Don Raney if he had an engineer’s estimate for the cost of these repairs, Hoffmann said, “It’s a hard one to wrap your head around. Hip-pocket without doing any calculations on it, I’d say probably a couple hundred-thousand dollars.”
Councilman Dale Brewer asked if the repairs were just for the exterior work and Hoffmann said it was. “Replacing any deteriorated siding, and to get a hard bid on all this, what I have gone through and kind of identified are areas that I think need replacing, deteriorated, and so I put percentages on each of the facades of the building so the contractor is not just hanging in the wind and shooting the moon with the price to cover themselves.”
Western red cedar, Hoffmann said, would be used because the historical society will request that it be that wood. He said the same would be used for the porch railing and porch decking and any of the “ornamental details that are deteriorated. They will be remade in like fashion.”
Councilman David Morris asked if the repairs would withstand the weather for several years to come, and Hoffmann said, “Yes absolutely we should be good.”
Morris also wanted to know how often the Black House will have to be repainted. Hoffmann said “a 10-year stretch, and hopefully, if we keep on a cycle like that of maintenance, we won’t get in this position where we actually got rotted wood in numerous locations down the exterior of that.” He said the western red cedar is going to hold up a lot better.
The Black House is a pre-Civil War home that began as a two-room log cabin in 1858 and had an expansion in 1872. It was one of the first 100 buildings in the state to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.