Feb. 19 2014 12:00 AM

Turner-Dodge House will need extensive repairs after burst pipe

Lansing’s historic Turner-Dodge House will be closed until June due to extensive water damage caused by a malfunction in the building’s sprinkler system. A power outage, coupled with a particularly cold evening, caused the third story sprinkler system to burst, sending water cascading throughout the 19th century home.

The incident occurred around 10 p.m. Jan. 29. It resulted in water pouring from the third floor of the building to the basement “for several minutes,” according to Lansing Parks and Recreation Director Brett Kaschinske. An assessment by the City of Lansing estimates the damages could cost upwards of $50,000, sidelining all the building’s events and bookings until June.

Michael Beebe, president of the nonprofit organization Friends of the Turner-Dodge House, 100 North St., said he was driving home from the airport when he saw Police and Fire Department officials on the scene. The burst pipe set off the mansion’s alarm system, sending local authorities to the historic landmark late that evening. Entering the mansion, Beebe said he saw water coming through the ceiling, soaking into light fixtures and furniture.

“It was basically raining throughout the west side of the house,” Beebe said. The sprinkler burst also caused water damage to several of the site’s antiquities, including the dining room table and authentic wallpaper in one of the bedrooms that had been paid for and hung by the Friends.

After water was shut off to the building, the City of Lansing hired the water damage company ServPro to remove the excess water and to dry out the mansion’s interior. Kaschinske said repair costs are only estimates until ServPro finishes its work. Funds to cover the restoration would come either from insurance coverage or the capital improvements project fund, a parks millage.

Built in 1855, the Turner-Dodge House, formerly known as the Dodge Mansion, housed Michigan pioneers who contributed to the foundation of Lansing during the 19th century. In an effort to preserve the estate, the site was listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1972 and was purchased by the City of Lansing two years later. Since then, the city has deemed the site a cultural center, showcasing the life and times of some of Lansing’s pioneers. Including information about the Turner and Dodge families, the museum also showcases Lansing’s history and its development into Michigan’s capital.

Blue signs posted on the building’s doors announced that Turner-Dodge will remain closed until renovations are complete. Kaschinske added that as the building continues to dry out, city officials will get a better idea of the costs of repairing the facility and restoring any damaged antiques.

Even as the building sits empty, Beebe said he’s looking for the silver lining, saying the house was in desperate need of renovation before the water damage.

“Because of this restoration, the house may be in better shape than it was beforehand,” Beebe said. Representatives from the parks department along with the Friends of Turner-Dodge House will meet March 3 to assess the situation and plan out the renovation’s next steps.