City grant shores up historic building

Owners of Index and Keller Law offices win $25K grant for repairs


One of downtown West Liberty’s historic buildings will be getting much-needed exterior repairs thanks to a City Economic Development Grant, approved by the council during the July 2 meeting.

The building at 219 Calhoun Street houses Keller Law, the West Liberty Index office and Brick Street Gallery.

Owners Jason and Lisa Wertzbaugher with New Horizon Properties said in their grant application, “This building is the oldest brick building in West Liberty and a significant structure in the West Liberty Downtown Historic District.”

The Wertzbaughers bought the building in 2013 and have done considerable work since, spending more than $100,000 to improve the exterior and interior spaces. However, they reported in their grant application that the chimney on the south side of the building is collapsing.

“The liner inside the chimney has failed, which is causing water and moisture to leak into the brick The chimney needs to be rebuilt and stabilized so that the south wall of the building can be supported. The chimney failure is causing the back wall to bow and there is concern about potential collapse.”

The estimated repair cost is reported to be approximately $57,500. The Wertzbaughers requested $25,000 in grant funding from the city.

WELEAD director Ken Brooks expressed his “strong support” for the grant application in a letter to the council, praising the Wertzbaughers for their commitment to historic preservation, support for businesses and organizations in West Liberty, and their “unwavering commitment to the betterment of West Liberty.”

“I just want to say how important it is for community members like you both to invest in our aging buildings and bring it back to life,” said council member Dana Dominguez at the meeting. “It’s incredibly important and I’m very, very thankful. So, thank you for all that you’ve done to rehabilitate that building, for what you’ve done for the business owners to stay in that building.”

With the grant funding in place, the Wertzbaughers hope to complete work by the end of August.