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Curing a Split Personality

Christina Kuhl Block, Stevens Point, Wisconsin

The Kuhl Block was built in 1885 on a prominent site flanking the Mathias Mitchell Square in Stevens Point. Later, the building's two storefronts were sold off to separate owners. Much later still, the owners of the corner portion, "updated" their property by applying a modern storefront and bricking in the upstairs windows. They also painted their part of the building -- stopping right at the property line -- not minding that the paint cuts across the building's decorative stepped-gable.

Gray paint and blocked-in windows disguise half of the Kuhl Block before restoration.
Gray paint and blocked-in windows
disguise half of the Kuhl Block
before restoration.

The result gave the building a distinct split personality: the richly detailed original versus the blank modern side. Luckily, in 1990, new owners commissioned Stevens Point architect Tom Brown to undo these negative changes. Because the building is in a National Register Historic District, the owner was able to receive preservation tax credits for the work.

After restoration, the original design is revealed and the building is once again whole.
After restoration, the original design
is revealed and the building is once
again whole.

The project included constructing a new storefront that was more sympathetic to the building's design and historic period. Because the previous remodeling had lowered the lintel that supported the masonry above the display windows, it proved too expensive to open up the display windows to their original height. The architect concealed this problem with an appropriate canvas awning. A chemical cleaner was used to strip the paint. Brick was removed from the window openings, and new windows installed. With its split personality cured, we can once again see the building as "one" and can appreciate its unique High-Victorian design.


 

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