Restoration expert eases City Council by answering questions about the McIntosh project

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
Tom White, a former Jackson County resident and an expert in building restoration, addressed questions and concerns from Ravenswood's City Council Tuesday night in a special meeting about the McIntosh.

Tom White traveled from Richmond to Ravenswood once again for City Council's special meeting Tuesday night. White spent most of his time in front of council answering questions and addressing concerns about the future of the McIntosh. 

He tackled each question and concern with confidence. White, who is an expert in building restoration, is volunteering as an advisor for the project since the City had "no one" else with historical building restoration knowledge. 

Most of council's questions surrounded the future of the interior of the McIntosh. Most echoed that they'd prefer to see an open floor plan so that the building is more suitable for large gatherings. 

More:Ravenswood City Council gets moving with McIntosh restoration project

More:Tom White visits Ravenswood's McIntosh building, gathers numbers for a restoration estimate

After White presented the approximate price estimate, around $800,000, councilmembers discussed potentially not replacing the third-floor apartment, which would save about $100,000, Ravenswood Mayor Josh Miller said. That money could then go toward making the McIntosh ADA compliant. 

Hope for future generations 

White said that no matter what the City decides to do with the McIntosh, he will continue to advise as needed throughout the project. After the council voted to move forward with restoration efforts, White smiled. 

He shared why he thinks restoring the McIntosh is so important he wants children in Ravenswood to know that they will have a place to make memories just like he did when he was growing up. 

"What you guys do with that building will say a lot to the people who live in this community," White said. 

His Boy Scout troop met in the connecting NYA Hall growing up, and Katrena Ramsey's son also had boy scout meetings there until the fire. 

Tears welled up in Ramsey's eyes as she thought about how the fire has affected the children. She said the day of the fire when flames roared through the building, an 8-year-old approached her and said "this is a big part of my life." 

She said dozens of children have asked to volunteer with cleanup efforts, but she couldn't allow them because of safety precautions. 

"They were ready to be there," Ramsey said. "It was hard keeping them away." 

More:Volunteers filled with hope while clearing out McIntosh building's first floor

More:Update: 'Old and faulty wiring' causes fire in Ravenswood, reports show

It takes just over six hours for White to drive to and from Ravenswood. He's devoted dozens of hours to the project already and Miller thanked him several times Tuesday for all of his work. 

White had the same response for every thank you  he said it's been an honor and a pleasure to help the City. He said he's happy that council decided to move forward with the restoration project because it shows that they about the younger generations. 

"It's saying, we're going to protect your environment," White said. "We're going to keep ... the integrity of this so you can enjoy what we had the opportunity to enjoy."

— 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 Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.