A Final Peek Inside the Village Hall

The last city council meeting was held in the Village Hall in December 2014.  The Victoria Lions held their last meeting in the Hall in May 2015.

Since then, the Lions have spent hours and hours retrieving things from inside the Hall -- dishes, tables, chairs, pots and pans, and two air conditioning units from the roof.

The Lions salvaged the large stainless steel freezer and a refrigerator, flags, supplies, light fixtures, and padded office chairs for the Lions Den at Lions Park.

Those who read the Victoria Gazette knew that the building has been slated for demolition.  City of Victoria staff had already cleared their things from City Offices, the connected curved-top building.

The Lions hauled out roasters, utensils, and shelving to reinstall elsewhere.  This past June, the Victoria Fire Department used the vacated building(s) for smoke drills and they cut holes in the walls.

The entry to the Hall was still cluttered on June 26th (when these pictures were taken)  with boxes, folding chairs, and a podium on roller wheels.   All the metal coat hooks were still in place on the entry walls.

Also in June, Lindstrom Environmental out of Plymouth spent days sucking insulation out of the attic . . .

The men from Lindstrom said they've never seen so much glue holding a carpet in place and that the City of Victoria certainly got its money's worth -- of glue -- when the carpet was laid back in 2000 as the Hall was being converted from a gymnasium into City Council Chambers. 

Demolition of the building is on the calendar for July.  In the meantime, the large former gymnasium is now, for the most part, empty.  You can guess where the basketball hoops used to be located.

But the kitchen is piled high with heating and air conditioning pipes and other debris.  One refrigerator was apparently not worth salvaging, nor was the kitchen sink and the old dishwasher,

The wood cabinets that Marge Robling opened and closed a billion times as she and others prepared meals for so many community events also remained.  The old black stove was sold.

What about the toilets?  Replied Tom Gray, Victoria Building Official, "The four stools in the men's and women's were too old to be salvaged.”  He added . . .

The bathrooms were littered with boards and wall boards.  The sinks and fixtures remained in place along with the ceramic tile. 

“Anything over .6 gallons per flush isn't allowed anymore.  And the one in the handicap accessible bathroom was a power flush and those don't transfer well."

On the City Offices side, Tom pointed out remnants of the original overhead doors now visible in the former Fire Hall — inside the window framing — along with a light switch that firemen once flipped when they entered through the front door.

What is Tom's role in all of this?  "I am responsible to make sure that, where applicable, asbestos survey testing is completed and, if any is found, that the asbestos containing materials are removed before demolition," he replied. 

"We also make sure that all hazardous materials like fluorescent light bulbs, ballasts, mercury containing thermostats, and CFL bulbs are removed."

Any interesting finds?  Replied Tom, "When I was surveying the building for hidden hazardous waste materials, eight old fluorescent light fixtures were found above the existing drop ceiling.  These would have been in place when the building was a fire station.  At one point, someone built a wall right up tight to one of the fixture bulbs, didn't remove the bulb, just stopped the wall at the bulb. “

"To top that all off,” he continued, “when duct work was run, a duct was also placed tight to the bottom of that same bulb.  Absolute miracle it never broke.  Also, above the drop ceiling of the 'bar' — which was converted into the conference lunch room — I found three glass ashtrays, slightly used."

Victoria Building Inspector Bill Schwanke is also involved. since he is certified by the MN Department of Health as an Asbestos Inspector.  This certification requires regular continuing education and allows the city to use his skills and certification  for city-owned projects. 

Said Tom, "If you think about all of the demolition the city has done, Bill has been a valuable asset for the city.”

“If the city plans on demolition of a city-owned building, Bill surveys the building, collects many samples of the building materials, and arranges for those samples to be tested by a licensed facility,” he said.

Added Tom, “Bill's knowledge and skills in this area also come in handy when we receive asbestos survey results from private demolition projects.  He can readily identify materials that need to be removed."

And so we've had one final peek inside the Village Hall before it soon disappears from the Victoria landscape.

It didn't live to a ripe old age, but it's ripe for the wrecking ball, maybe as early as July 7th.

… and pulling up carpeting and finding the basketball floor, then chopping out the tile floor.

It’s called asbestos abatement.  The sharp-edged broken pieces of tile were shoveled into large bakery barrels that were then sealed and hauled off to a hazardous waste dump that is also sealed  from the environment. 

Editor Sue