The Beatrice Carnegie Building, a shining example of neo-classical architecture situated right in the middle of town is starting to show its age--again.

Built in 1903 and opened as a library in 1904, the Carnegie Building was funded in part by a $20,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish industrialist and philanthropist. Its intricate terra-cotta decoration was created by a Chicago firm that boasted the building’s beauty in its advertisements.

In 2012, an extensive renovation, costing nearly $1 million was completed, allowing for the Beatrice Area Chamber of Commerce and NGage to take up residency.

But recently, the plaster walls have started puckering, and a plaster ring around the ceiling of the conference room has started cracking and leaning precariously downward.

Directly above the bronze wall plaque featuring Andrew Carnegie, some cracking has pushed out the plaster wall several inches. And, on the ceiling above it, the plaster is starting to crack near the heat vent.

Though no one is exactly sure what is causing the damage, it’s probably not going to be a simple fix, City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer told the Beatrice City Council on Monday.

The council will be having a company come in to take a look at the damage in coming days, he said, in order to determine whether it’s a problem with the building settling, water from the roof or even old and new rafters.

Another obstacle is that the Carnegie Building is on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning any repairs would have to be approved by the state.

“We have to do all of this through the State Historical Preservation Office,” Tempelmeyer said. “So, we have to get their approval before we remove the plaster. We have to know how to make the changes and corrections that need to be made.”

There will also be a company coming in to look at the roof, Tempelmeyer said, and Michael Fakler of Fakler Architects in Beatrice will be lending a hand as well.

There are some grant opportunities that might be available, Tempelmeyer said, but they’ll have wait until after the city finds out what the issue is and determines how to fix it.

“Everybody's taking some time out to help us try to figure out what's going on with the building,” he said. “But we will probably need to make some significant repairs to that building here, probably sooner rather than later.”


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