For over a century, the fire brick industry was the primary economic engine of Audrain County with peak employment exceeding 5,000 and payrolls supporting four generations of families. The industry was the driving force of social change in the county and area. The Audrain County Historical Society believed it was essential to communicate the history record of the industry in the county and contacted PWA about designing an addition to their existing building that would serve as a Fire Brick Museum.
The Building Committee for the project set a goal to have the new addition blend in and complement the existing buildings which have lap siding, tall windows, and a residential-type sloped roofing. PWA documented the existing details and worked to replicate them for the addition. Exterior siding and window products were upgraded to longer lasting products that were not available 30-40 years ago when the last addition was completed.
Additionally, the Building Committee wanted to free up some of the existing main level space for public use. To accomplish this goal, PWA designed a basement beneath the addition to house those functions which were essentially storage and exhibit preparation. Constructing a basement and foundation walls so close to the existing buildings without basements was a challenge. The solution was to separate the addition from the existing buildings with a connector that opened up to a courtyard. The result allows natural light into the space on the back side of the addition while maintaining the overall look of the front side of the building without interruption.
Strategically placed short walls create a logical traffic flow and provide ample space for displays within the Fire Brick Museum.