The landmark 1887 J. Bowron building, one of the few remaining examples of prairie-style Victorian limestone architecture in Marion, took a called Strike Two last week from the fastball pitchers on the County Commission.
After a month ago removing from the budget money that could have been used to repair the landmark, the commissioners talked about creating new office space on its second floor — at a cost of “as much as” $500,000 — or building a whole new building, undoubtedly without any of the original’s charm, for $750,000 to $1 million.
We aren’t sure why we need either plan’s more than an eighth of an acre of useable office space — enough for 1,333 people to stand comfortably in at any one time. The key point is that, using the high end of both estimates, it might cost only half as much not just to restore the landmark but also to double its usable space as it would to put up a whole new structure with virtually no chance of surviving 124 years in graceful elegance.
So what did the commissioners do? Why, they asked a consultant to do further study of a new building, of course, and told him to take his time, while relatively minor problems with the only floor of the building currently in use continue to fester.
For those who can’t envision how Marion let its old creamery building slip away, keep watching. You’re seeing the process first-hand.
— ERIC MEYER