Demolition work began on Tuesday morning on the Monett City Park Casino. Chad Vaughn, with Vaughn Construction, had the honor of retiring one of Monett's most popular landmarks. The trackhoe quickly dug into the roof as the wood structure, built by M.E. Gillioz in 1926, offered little resistance. [Photos by Pete Rauch]
Demolition of the City Park Casino in Monett began on Tuesday. The 1926 structure will be replaced over the next 10 months with a new structure one and a half times bigger than the current assembly hall.
According to the engineering study, the walls on the building had begun bowing. With a snow load and enough wind to sway the structure, the engineer warned that the roof level could fall completely through to the floor with little or no warning.
The Monett City Council advertised for bids to take down the historic structure for three weeks. When bids were opened on Aug. 3, two proposals had been submitted.
An inside view of the casino lounge as the roof began being peeled away and daylight came through to a place that housed many meetings and receptions.
[Photo by Pete Rauch]
Vaughn Construction had the low bid at $6,540. Hillhouse Services proposed doing the job for $36,900.
After building Inspector Wade Ennes checked to see that both bids covered the same work, council members met on Aug. 10 to award the contract to Vaughn.
City Administrator Dennis Pyle said that architect Richard Werner brought revisions in the plans last week for review. After listening to concerns raised by the city council's Advisory Board, room for the new warming kitchen was expanded, incorporating space that had been planned for the caretaker's office.
One final view of the main assembly hall of the Monett City Park Casino showed a peaceful scene where hundreds of dances had been held, including school proms for Monett and neighboring school districts, as well as all kinds of music played over nine decades. Monett Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch saved a piece of the floor which he hopes to cut into small pieces and share with his high school classmates. He said the flooring had been vigorously nailed to the subflooring and was difficult to extract. [Photos by Pete Rauch]
The office was moved into space that had been planned as a separate bathroom for the smaller meeting room area. With the change, the number of stalls in bathrooms serving the entire building were expanded.
Earlier plans also called for placing the mechanical room and the heating and air conditioning operation below ground. Pyle said there had been a concern about the cost of fill to cover the building's original underground bathrooms.
After meeting with his consultants, Werner found it would be more cost effective to place the entire operation on one level. A room planned for storage of tables and chairs will be expanded to hold the equipment.
Once past the western porch, the Vaughn trackhoe made a clean bite into the walls of the City Park Casino as demolition progressed.
Construction of the Monett Area YMCA building nearby will be available as adequate fill for covering the old basement, Pyle added.
City crews have been busy for several weeks removing paintings, plaques, photographs and other equipment from the casino. Some old wood chairs were found in the process. Pyle said all the items have been placed in storage.
Utility crews were not able to start disconnecting mains and power until after the Aug. 7 primary election, the last public event scheduled for the structure.
Demolition proceeded rapidly as the first window came out on the Monett Park Casino. Pete Rauch found some fire bricks in the structure's foundation, suggesting either the structure was built for wood heating or original contractor M.E. Gillioz simply placed bricks that would withstand the heat of a fire in the building as standard procedure.
[Photo by Pete Rauch]
Demolition was expected to take five days. Commissioner Jerry Dierker, who was on site to see the early stages of the demolition, said the new building would extend farther back than the old structure. The trees around the entrance would not be disturbed. The west side of the building would stay in approximately the same place.
"The building is just old," Dierker said. "It is what it is. A lot of good memories happened here. Hopefully we'll make a new building where a lot of good memories will happen over the next 85 years."
Pyle did not anticipate a cornerstone or other memorable artifacts to surface, but trusted Danny Vaughn's judgment as a longtime Monettan to preserve anything that surfaces.
The west end of the City Park Casino began to disappear in demolition on Tuesday morning. [Photos by Pete Rauch]
The contract for construction of a new casino will be awarded in late October or early November, Pyle estimated. Construction is expected to take about six months. The new building should be available for use in June or July 2013.
By midday on Tuesday, the west end of the casino had disappeared. Demolition of the entire structure is expected to take five days. [Photos by Pete Rauch]
A close-up view of the casino demolition as the interior is exposed. Pete Rauch said the wood inside the building and in the attic was still in good condition. Building Inspector Wade Ennes contacted local builders who disassemble old structures to salvage the material. None came to look at the casino or bid on demolition. [Photos by Pete Rauch]