SH art center building

Contractors plan to begin a roof replacement project for the South Haven Center for the Arts, which is expected to cost $71,500.

Maintaining a landmark is no easy task, but thanks to the cooperative efforts of two groups, the historic Carnegie Foundation building in downtown South Haven will soon be undergoing much-needed improvements.

The South Haven Center for the Arts and city of South Haven are chipping in $71,500 to replace the building’s expansive roof. This marks the first major renovation project undertaken at the art center since 2015.

“The existing roof has been in need of replacement for several years and has been patched multiple times in the past five to six years,” said City Engineer Mike Dopp. “The previous leaks have caused damage to the interior ceiling and walls.”

Art Center Executive Director Kerry Hagy has kept an eye on those leaks.

“For the last three years, we have had setbacks to interior restoration due to the roof leaks,” she said. “This has included continual staining on the second floor’s newly painted ceiling and walls. These are hard to repaint because they are so high and require scaffolding.”

Although the city is in charge of major maintenance upgrades to the building, the art center wanted to see if it could help pay for the roofing project in some way.

That hope became a reality this fall when the Michigan Council for Arts and Culture awarded a $22,500 capitol improvements grant to the art center.

“We have a 30-year lease which states that necessary repairs to the building that are over $200 are the responsibility of the city,” Hagy said. “However, we are proud to approach major improvements and repairs as a collaboration with the city and to work together to get the resources available for us and the city to maintain the longevity of the building. In the last few years, the city has had to patch the roof to deal with leaking, so we believe in the long term this is a great investment for all of us, and we are so happy we received this grant to pay for part of the project.”

Work is expected to begin on the roof in early 2022, with a completion date set for some time in the spring.

The Garland Company, which is based in Cleveland, will oversee the project and plans to use Michigan-based contractors, several of whom have helped with roofing repairs to the building in the past, said T.J. Morris, a roof management specialist for Garland.

The roof system contains four different sections that will be replaced either with shingles or a durable rubber roofing membrane, according to Dopp.

Once the roofing project is complete, Hagy said the art center staff plans to turn their attention to interior maintenance projects.

“We will be able to focus on the interior repairs and upgrades that are needed, including ceiling repairs to both the upstairs and downstairs gallery. We will tackle this work in phases,” Hagy said.

The art center building was built in 1905, courtesy of a grant from the Carnegie Foundation, which funded library construction projects throughout the United States at the time.

After the South Haven Library relocated in 1959 to a newer building at 314 Broadway Ave., the Carnegie building became a community center until the late 1970s. It wasn’t until 1990 that it opened as the South Haven Center for the Arts, thanks to the efforts of the South Haven Art Association, city, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and fundraising and restoration efforts by individuals and groups.