News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 12, 2014

‘Sounded like a waterfall’

Burst fire sprinkler pipe floods future historical museum building

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — “We opened the front door [and] it sounded like a waterfall,” a Vigo County Historical Society board member said on Wednesday about water damage in the future home of the county’s historical museum that could take “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to repair.    

All three floors and the basement of the four-story building — formerly the Glidden Furniture store at 929 Wabash Ave. — were soaked after a sprinkler pipe on the far southeast corner of the third floor ceiling froze and broke. Most of the 40,000-square-feet property was affected.  

Gail Price, a Historical Society board member, said the pipe break apparently happened overnight and was discovered Wednesday morning.

“It was just heartbreaking,” Price said. “Good thing is we caught it quickly. … Water was coming down the walls,” she said.

Chad Overton, owner of the Terre Haute ServPro franchise, the company doing the clean up, said water went throughout the building and reached the basement level where water was “feet deep” when they discovered it.

“You could have literally swam in this room this morning,” Overton said of the basement. By late afternoon, its condition was much better, he said, but puddles of water still stood and water still dripped from the basement ceiling.

In the next few days, his team’s task will be to get the place dry and to demolish parts that are not repairable.

Based on Overton’s years of experience, he estimated the damage could cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” but an official assessment would have to be done to determine the actual cost.

Price said an insurance adjuster is coming in today and the insurance may cover expenses such as tearing out the damaged parts, water removal, getting the place dry, etc.

“Hopefully, within a week, we can hand it back to them,” for the restoration, Overton said. Museum officials have planned to renovate the space before moving the museum.

Despite the damage, Price was still optimistic.

“We feel so lucky that none of the collections were in there. … Those things are irreplaceable,” she said.

And instead of delaying the renovation of the building in preparation for the museum’s planned move next year, this unfortunate event may just speed it up, Price said.

“We were just beginning our campaign to raise money for the renovation of this building. I believe … we may just have to get started now,” she said. Some items they planned to replace during renovation might be torn out as part of the cleaning process from the water damage.

“It’s such a shame that something bad happened before we even get started, but we’ll get through it,”  Price said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or