People remain optimistic for the McIntosh building as plans to restore are underway

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
Katrena Ramsey prepares to make sketches of the McIntosh's floor plan.

It's been a week since flames tore through the McIntosh Community Building in Ravenswood. Now, while insurance inspections are underway and city employees are crunching numbers, people are giving their time, services and money to the McIntosh. 

Moving forward 

Katrena Ramsey, Ravenswood's superintendent of Parks and Recreation, needed about 36 hours after the fire to get her head back in the game. She's filled with optimism and a can-do attitude now, and she has every intention of restoring the McIntosh Community Building.

"Despite everything, I wouldn't be doing a good service to the citizens of Ravenswood if I didn't try and restore that building in some way," Ramsey said. "If they can rebuild Notre Dame, we can rebuild the McIntosh."

Before any work can begin, the insurance company needs to finalize its investigation. In the meantime, dumpsters have been dropped off by the building so when the green light comes, the city can get to work. 

Ravenswood Mayor Josh Miller said regardless of whether the building is restored or not, people will always have the memories made at the McIntosh. 

"That building, that's just the shell," Miller said. "What happened in that building, those memories that you spent with your family and your friends, that's what you're holding on to, and you'll always have those."

The McIntosh's checklist 

The first thing that needs attention is the second floor. Since most of the roof is gone, and the third floor collapsed, the second floor is being smothered in excess weight.

The debris must be thrown out, what's left of the roof must go, a tarp must go over the building to temporarily protect the interior, and joists must be installed on the second floor for stability. 

Beyond the second floor, water must be pumped out of the basement, materials that survived must be removed and examined and all the floors need sweeping and mopping.  

Old friend, helping hand 

Tom White is a cost estimator at Athens Construction in Richmond, Virginia, and a former Jackson County resident. He has donated his time and services to the McIntosh since he found out about the fire. When he heard the news, he drove to Ravenswood and check out the damage himself.

He left Richmond at 5 a.m. and got to Ravenswood around 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

While official engineering reports are pending on the structure, White did his own informal study. He has worked in construction for over 15 years, has completed several historical renovations and has worked on large projects in Virginia like the State Capitol Complex. 

White said the McIntosh has suffered substantial damage, but the structural aspect of the building isn't in "that bad" of shape. His recommendation: "let's move forward with restoring it."

White is offering his services for free. He's serving as Ramsey's supervisor over the restoration process and will travel to Ravenswood from Richmond quite frequently over the course of this project. 

White was raised in Jackson County, and he's made several memories at the McIntosh. His Boy Scout troop met in the basement there; he met his wife there; he worked on his first construction project there. He doesn't want to see this building go away. 

"What I'm doing for them, I'm doing because that's my community building," White said. 

Time to talk money

During White's visit Saturday, he made a rough estimate of $750,000 to restore the McIntosh. The McIntosh, along with its belongings, was insured, but the exact price insurance will pay is pending.

Before the fire, about $115,000 was set aside for a roofing project and an elevator lift into the NYA Hall. On top of that, a GoFundMe has been created.

"You can rebuild anything," Ramsey said. "It's, do you have the money to do it?"

Kim Love, a Ravenswood Middle School teacher, created the GoFundMe Wednesday with a goal of $100,000. As of Thursday afternoon, over $2,000 was raised. 

— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at kwaltemyer@jacksonnewspapers.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.