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Historic Downtown Pleasant Hill

Post-frame flexibility made restoration of downtown buildings easier.

Architect Jim Delmont and Bob Lotspeich of SL Construction and Lester Building Systems, are on a roll. They have collaborated on over two dozen highly successful post-frame construction projects. They received honors such as the Lester Award of Excellence and an honorable mention for Building of the Year by the National Frame Building Association.

One of their post-frame construction projects is proving a perfect fit for the historic downtown area of Pleasant Hill, Missouri. It’s an expansion of the city’s historical society museum that includes several storefronts reminiscent of 19th-century small-town America. During the expansion an old railroad scene painted on the museum’s outside wall was incorporated into the new interior.

As a result of their string of successes, Delmont has become an avid proponent of pre-engineered wood building systems.

“My designs have got to be flexible, and using post-frame construction allows me to be as flexible as the contractor needs,” he said. “With wood, if we need to add another truss, we add it. I can beef up certain areas, make clear spans, leave places for mechanical rooms, and bury columns in the wall. That can’t be done with steel without losing space.”

Delmont said of the Pleasant Hill Historical Society project, “I’m spanning some 80 feet, but I didn’t want big columns out front. With post-frame, I was able to get as much clear span for the historical society building as possible.”

Wood construction and treatments also made it possible for Delmont to maintain the museum’s 19th-century look.

“When you view the elevation, it looks like two separate buildings, although it’s actually one,” he said. “As a designer, I felt it was important to maintain the character of a downtown main street. I was able to use masonry construction on the outside without having to spend a lot of money.”

Cost savings were particularly important for this project because it was funded through donations. Cost was a primary reason the historical society changed its original plans from steel-frame to post-frame construction.

The change, according to Lotspeich, meant a savings of about $50,000. The current project’s estimated cost of construction is $300,000, and the estimated time for completion is four months. Because funding is ongoing, a Phase 2 is being planned for an additional 5,000–6,000-square-foot building.