Saturday, May 10, 2003
City to spend $387,000 on Josie Rogers house
By JOHN BOZZO
The on-again, off-again plans to restore the historic home of the city's first woman doctor and only woman mayor are back on track.
Saboungi Construction Co. will renovate the home of Josie Rogers, which is on Beach Street along the downtown riverfront, for $387,200, city public works officials said Friday.
Efforts to restore the home were suspended because of budget concerns last September, but commissioners balked when faced with a decision in October to demolish or dispose of the home.
"We knew we had the funds," said Stan Lemke, public works director. "The question was, did we want to commit the money for final renovation and then budget for staffing?"
The city has spent about $415,000 in state, federal and local grant funds for the project, and additional grants will be used to complete the project. The estimated $67,000 annual operating cost is expected to be defrayed by rent from social service groups who plan to use the home.
Construction work should begin in two weeks and take about 10 months to complete. The work includes interior and exterior renovation, as well as sprinkler and security systems.
"It's being pretty much gutted," said James Sloane, deputy public works director. "The idea is keeping the integrity of the place as much as they can."
Rogers was the daughter of D.D. Rogers, a surveyor and one of the city's founding fathers. The home was built in the late 1800s at its current riverside location. It was moved 450 feet to the west in 1919 when D.D. Rogers deeded the property to the city. City officials moved the home to its original location about two years ago.
Josie Rogers lived in the home until her death in 1975, including the term she served as mayor, which began in 1922. She also saw patients there.
The home faces the river, which was common for homes in the late 1800s when the river was the main mode of transportation. Landscaping is planned to make the back of the home more attractive to passers-by on Beach Street.
Although Rogers is the city's only legally elected female mayor, in 1936, Edward Armstrong resigned as mayor amid a budget crisis and appointed his wife, Irene. Later, that year, Gov. David Sholtz ordered her out of office, along with three commissioners, the city clerk and city manager.