It was never the decision the council hoped to arrive at, but after nearly two-and-a-half years of consideration, the structure locally known as the old funeral home will be demolished.
Located at 500 North Franklin Street, the house was once owned by Rodney W. Tirrill, a man described by some as “no ordinary citizen” — a civil war veteran, Iowa senator and citizen philanthropist.
After a lengthy period of abandonment gave way to potential safety hazards, the house was labeled a nuisance by the City of Manchester. After a subsequent court battle that ended in late 2018, the city came into possession of the structure for roughly $4,000.
The building was plagued by mold, asbestos, dated electrical and water damage from burst frozen pipes, but the council had the intention to sell the property to an entity who would actually have the means to restore it, however, that ended up being too lofty a goal. Part of the council’s fear was that the structure could fall into the hands of a new owner, no matter how well-intentioned, who would be unable to get the job done, bringing everything back to square one.
The council and city staff entered in negotiations with several groups who wanted to preserve the building, but after seeing the staggering estimated costs of rehabilitation, all eventually backed away from the project.
On April 12, the council unanimously voted to award an asbestos removal contract to Advanced Environmental Testing & Abatement out of Waterloo, who provided the low bid for asbestos abatement at $18,444.
Advanced Environment will take around three weeks to complete its task and Vick said they could start as early as April 14.
Once asbestos work is completed, Lansing Brothers Construction out of Luxemburg will begin the demolition at a cost of $25,850, which must be completed by June 30.
“It’s critical we get it down in this timeframe because we have to look at seeding and everything else out there,” City Manager Tim Vick said. “We’re still working on what we’re going to do with that property later on, how we’re going to develop it.”
Councilmember Tania Bradley said while she understands there are community members who wanted the structure kept as a historical site, the costs to bring it back exceeded what any private group could muster.
But while the house is coming down, Bradley said she feels the Tirrills are better remembered by a different gift they left the city.
“I fully believe that Tirrill Park is what their legacy is, not necessarily the building,” Bradley said.