By Jayson Jacoby
A water pipe leading to the steam boiler in the Leo Adler House museum froze last week, damaging the boiler and causing minor water damage inside the 124-year-old home.
The Baker County Museum Commission is hoping to raise the estimated $7,500 needed to replace the boiler with a forced-air furnace, said volunteer commissioner Kurt Miller.
The Commission also needs to repair water damage, limited to one toilet, at an estimated cost of $1,300, Miller said.
Insurance should cover some of the expense, but the deductibles are relatively high, he said.
Miller said the damage would have been worse but for Vince Woods, Baker County’s facilities manager, on Thursday making one of his periodic checks of the 1889 Italianate home at 2305 Main St. that was the longtime residence of Leo Adler, Baker City’s most renowned philanthropist.
Adler, who died Nov. 2, 1993, at age 98, left his $20 million estate to the community. The Leo Adler Foundation provides college scholarships as well as grants to a variety of local projects.
After Woods discovered the damage, several volunteers arrived to set up space heaters and to turn off the water supply to the home, Miller said.
Although the Adler House is closed to the public from Labor Day through Memorial Day, the boiler remains on to maintain a temperature of above 50 degrees, Miller said.
That’s necessary to protect the home itself from frost damage, as well as the many artifacts inside.
But because the boiler requires water, it is vulnerable to extreme cold, such as the 20-below-zero temperature of Dec. 8.
When the water supply pipe to the boiler froze, the boiler stopped working causing the temperature throughout the house to plummet.
One toilet froze, causing limited water damage.
Fortunately, Miller said, there was no structural damage to walls, floors or ceilings.
By replacing the boiler with a furnace, the Commission would no longer have to keep the water supply on to the Adler House during the winter, Miller said.
Anyone wanting to help can call Chris Cantrell at the Baker Heritage Museum at 541-523-9308 or Miller at 541-519-2049.