Wixom-Wire House Museum preservation work nears completion
Heavy traffic on Wixom Road, age and animals had taken its toll on the cobblestone Michigan basement and foundation. Additionally, as found during an examination by a historic architect, the main central support “beam,” a large diameter very straight tree limb, suffers from dry rot.
Originally built by Lucy Wixom, widow of original settler Ahijah Wixom, it was the parsonage of the Reverend Samuel Wire. During Wire’s occupancy, the house was used for both church and funeral services. The property passed through several owners in the following years before being purchased by the city in 1975. One of the things that’s unique about the home, explained Nancy Dingeldey of the Wixom Historical Society, is that, as Ron Campbell, Oakland County’s preservation architect, explained to society members, “we’re preserving the life of the common man.”
There already had been previous contact with H2A Architects related to the fundraising efforts of the Wixom Historical Society for repairs to the foundation. Dingeldey credited City Manager Clarence Goodlein with a presentation describing the structure as a city asset that the needs to be preserved.
“The big problem has been the foundation of the home,” Goodlein added.
In order to retain “the historic flavor of the home,” he stated, the city is working with H2A Architects based in Davison and contractor In-Line Construction of Warren. In-Line Construction has previously conducted renovations of the historic Gibson House.
Goodlein explained the completion date depends in part upon the weather, and estimated it would be about two weeks until the project is complete.
“This process actually got going last year,” Goodlein said. In late 2016, the city approved an emergency allocation of approximately $56,000 to do what was necessary to maintain the property, which it owns. He added the budget might be exceeded by $4,000 to $5,000.
Items already completed include the installation of two steel beam “sisters” that were placed next to the wooden log beam which had dry rot in it on the north end of the foundation. The inside work is complete, including the laying of a 4-inch concrete slab/floor to secure cellar walls. The floor will be covered with dirt to look like a typical “Michigan basement.” It also will keep ground squirrels out of the structure.
In addition to rebuilding the exterior, the foundation also will be coated with waterproofing below grade to aid in preservation.
“We’re excited to see it when it’s all done,” Dingeldey stated. “Knowing that our little 1850 structure will survive for another couple of hundred years is a bonus. There’s been a lot of love put in that house.”