Preparing the perimeter - An Amish crew works on the Bonine Carriage House perimeter beams. Photo providedOutside view - The south wall of Bonine Carriage House in Vandalia. Photo provided

Bonine Carriage House restoration resumes

VANDALIA — The Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC) purchased Quaker abolitionists and UGRR stationmasters James E. and Sarah Bogue Bonine’s House and Carriage House on Dec. 29, 2010 and immediately began restoration of the circa 1845 Victorian home on Penn Road and M-60 since it was in imminent danger of collapse. By late 2014, the Bonine House was stabilized, and URSCC directed restoration efforts to the circa 1850 Gothic Revival Carriage House and Underground Railroad station across the street on Calvin Center Road and M-60. They hired Bullseye Construction of Vandalia who supported the southwest corner with cribbing, then installed new perimeter beams. Quality Masonry of Vandalia rebuilt the crumbling foundation in early 2015, fieldstone inside, cobblestone outside, stabilizing the building until funds allowed further work.
A Bullseye Construction crew of Amish workmen began restoration of the south and east walls last week, installing temporary steel beams and cribbing, to be followed by the installation of massive new perimeter beams. They say some of the tools they are using are mid 19th century. Quality Masonry will finish the foundation when the crew has completed their work.
The next steps in the Carriage House restoration are removal of the concrete “bunker” in front, re-roofing, then restoration of the windows, doors and siding. Finally, the structures in front of the Carriage House will be moved to other locations on the property. URSCC hopes to complete work by the end of 2018 at a projected cost of $200,000. When completed, visitors will be able to experience a genuine station on the Underground Railroad, as well as a period museum.
More about URSCC, the Bonine House and Carriage House restorations, and the Underground Railroad in Cass County can be found on www.urscc.org.

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