Vicksburg Pavilion Takes Its Final Form

Bob Smith and Richard Barnes loaded timber for the frame that came from Mike and Kathy Bechers’ woods. After the job was done they relaxed on the huge trailer load of wood.
Bob Smith and Richard Barnes loaded timber for the frame that came from Mike and Kathy Bechers’ woods. After the job was done they relaxed on the huge trailer load of wood.

By Sue Moore

An open-air pavilion, that has been two years in the making, is finally set to be erected beginning with piers and concrete being poured in September at the Vicksburg Historic Village site at 300 N. Richardson Street.

Site plans have been reviewed and approved, drawings completed and bids taken by Frederick Construction for the sub-contracting work. What remains for the project is to raise some more money to see it through to completion, according to Margaret Kerchief, president of the Historical Society which is overseeing the financial aspects of the building.

The greater Vicksburg community has pitched in to provide 2,100 meals for the volunteers who will be here in September to build the frame, according to Karen Hammond. She volunteered to solicit food from anyone who has a restaurant or experience in feeding large numbers of people. Over 21 groups or individuals have stepped forward to provide food, and more than 40 bakers have volunteered their expertise.

The project began as a gleam in the Lions Club, Farmers’ Market and Historical Society’s eyes. Hundreds of hours have been spent in producing at least three different iterations of the pavilion. The final 40 x 110 feet design began to take shape when Chris Newman, a Vicksburg Village Council trustee, came forth with the idea to ask the Timber Framers Guild (TFG) to help produce a post-and-beam frame that didn’t use any nails but relies on the old-fashioned mortise and tenon joinery method of building.

Newman is now the volunteer with the biggest commitment of time as he has provided all of the drawings for the engineering of the frame. He has convinced the TFG to get involved and been a big advocate for the methodology they employ.

The wood to build the frame has all been donated from local farms, in particular Mike and Kathy Beckers woods on W. Ave., and Matt and Julie Skryzpek’s farm on 34th Street. Richard Barnes has spent weeks and now months, utilizing his portable sawmill to cut the timber into the exact sizes required as specified by Newman. Tim Moore has donated his time as the resident forester on the project, with Randy Peters working to fell the ash trees that will be the primary wood used in the frame. Another big donation of time was from Matt Schabes who has designed and manufactured the “saddles” that are made of iron, that hold the piers in place.

Many dollars were raised in the early going with a major donation from the Vicksburg Foundation of $113,000. They designated $60,000 as an outright grant and required that $53,000 of it must be matched by local giving. The Lions Club pledged $10,000, Rotary Club $5,000, the Kalamazoo Foundation $10,000, village of Vicksburg of $25,000 and individuals another $21,000 for a total of $201,000. It is estimated that another $50,000 will be needed to complete the effort.

The Historical Society has been selling pegs that will be used to put the building together and will have them available at the Farmers’ Market, in stores downtown, and at the site on Richardson Street from September 12 through 22 according to Kerchief. “We are on the hunt for this large chunk of money that is needed to finish the project. The pegs represent a small portion of what is needed. We want to make sure the roof gets on before winter sets in, so the Pavilion Advisory committee has been tasked to raise the additional funds,” she said. Donations may be made online at

Timber Framers Guild Visits Vicksburg

Timber Framers Guild Visits Vicksburg The new pavilion will be constructed from timber donated by several Vicksburg area landowners, 30,000 board feet in the frame alone.

Over 60 timber framers from all over the country will come together on September 12, to fabricate nearly six hundred pieces and raise the frame on Saturday, September 21st.

The Vicksburg Historical Society (VHS) is orchestrating local support for this project, they are working hard to have everything in place to roll out the red carpet for the crew, providing meals, site support and entertainment. Margaret Kerchief, president and Kristina Powers Aubry, vice president of VHS have been the mainstays of the pre-planning, while the funding has been secured by the Pavilion Advisory Committee that was formed in the winter of 2012.

The need is great to finish the funding commitments according to Sue Moore who has been in charge of this fundraising group. Over $50,000 is still needed to complete the project she says, with putting a roof on the frame and finishing the concrete pad for flooring, the most urgent requirement.

The VHS has indicated that the necessary funds need to be in hand on a pay as you build decision making process.

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