Mitchell Research Center in
downtown Hillsdale.
Kris­tiana Mork | Col­legian

The Mitchell Research Center’s old building might look newer inside and out, if it receives funding from the city and his­toric grants.

The Mitchell center is the light purple building on Manning Street next to the Hillsdale Com­munity Library and has suf­fered water damage and weath­ering over the years.

The plaster ceilings in the Mitchell Building are in need of repair. after some water radi­ators leaked into the wood and plaster, said Bonnie McCosh, the center’s vice pres­ident. The ceiling in the ballroom on the third floor need to be repaired or changed, she said.

“There’s no way to replicate this kind of plaster design,” McCosh said while pointing out the intricate designs on the ceiling. “It’s very dif­ficult — most old buildings like this have lath and plaster, and that’s kind of hard to repair unless the person knows what they’re doing.”

The original designs were created by Italian artisans, but the beauty is also the problem that the city is now trying to tackle.

“The ceilings aren’t drywall, they’re plaster,” David Mackie, Hillsdale City Manager said. “The third floor plaster are ceilings are coming down.”

The capital improvement portion of the 2018 – 2019 pro­posed budget details the city’s plan to fix the ceilings: “The com­plete stripping and replacing of the aging mate­rials is planned, replacing the old plaster/lathe [sic] ceiling with new drywall and a fresh coat of paint.”

The pro­posed budget will also allow change the way the exterior looks, but it also serves to keep the house in tact. Mackie said that the some of the outside structure such as the siding and the underside of the eaves are rotting and in need of repair.

“The exterior of the building has several areas where the wood has rotted due to exposure to weather con­di­tions,” the capital improvement section con­tinues. “These areas will be repaired/replaced and a com­plete repainting of the exterior wood siding, soffit and fascia is planned.”

The Center is also waiting to hear back from eval­u­ators about whether it would be fea­sible to strip the paint off the building to expose the yellow brick under­neath, McCosh said. The Center is also exploring the pos­si­bility of his­toric grants to pay for that process.

The city council is scheduled to take the pro­posed budget to a vote early next month.

The house has quite a history, and it con­tinues to help other uncover their own history.

Charles T. Mitchell began con­struction of the house in 1868 and fin­ished it the next year, according to Hillsdale’s walking tour pam­phlet. The house was left in a will to the city, and in 1908, the building became the Mitchell Public Library.

It has since come to house the Mitchell Research Center, whose purpose is to “make col­lected and donated research records and mate­rials rel­ative to genealogical, his­torical and archival sub­jects available; to provide needed or requested assis­tance to the public; and to con­tinue indexing and com­piling research mate­rials for Hillsdale County and beyond,” according to Hillsdale Com­munity Library website.