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Updated May 22, 11:44 a.m.
The Arcade Building has its top back.
During an operation that took a little more than an hour on the afternoon of May 15, workers hoisted the new copper-clad tower onto the center bay of the roof and then capped it with a 5-foot-tall, fanciful copper spire, effectively completing the restoration of the local landmark at 1 Riverside Road in downtown Riverside.
Building owner Giuseppe Zappani personally oversaw the placement of the central tower, nudging into its final resting place before it was bolted to its supports. Zappani rescued the Arcade Building in 2010, buying it from a Minnesota-based bank that held the mortgage, after the property was caught up in a massive securities fraud scheme.
Zappani began restoration work in the fall of 2010, stripping the stucco from the first floor and reconstructing the Victorian gothic brick faade, installing a slate roof and copper gutters and downspouts.
While a few minor details remain to be finished on the exterior, the placement of the central tower on Tuesday was the topping-out ceremony, which was attended by a dozen or so residents and village officials, including Village President Michael Gorman, Trustee Lonnie Sacchi and Village Manager Peter Scalera.
Also on hand were Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga and Melissa Kotrba of the Riverside Preservation Commission. Marsh-Ozga was instrumental in getting the Arcade Building placed on the state's most endangered list in the spring of 2010.
"This is a great day for Riverside and Frederick Clarke Withers would be proud," said Marsh-Ozga, referring to the building's architect. The Arcade Building was commissioned by the Riverside Improvement company, which founded the village, and designed by Withers around 1871 as Riverside's first commercial building. The Riverside Improvement Company's offices were located in the building.
Historic photos show that the original central tower was made out of wood and painted. By the 1920s, the tower was no longer there.
Zappani said the decision to clad the tower in copper was to reduce the need for maintenance and make it last.
"I didn't want to have to service it, and it's hard to service if it's wood," said Zappani. "It's probably why they took the first one out."
Behind the copper sheath is a rubber membrane stretched around a wood frame. The tower weighed between 600 and 700 pounds, said Zappani, and was lifted into place with a crane.
After the tower was secured, a worker climbed a ladder to place the spire on the top.
Just two years ago, the building was vacant and, at times, unsecured. It weathered a couple of harsh winters before Zappani bought the building in August 2010 for $1.3 million.
"When I met Joe Zappani, I knew it was going to happen," Marsh-Ozga said. "He's a very aesthetic person. He cares about materials and design. He had a passion about the building."
Photos by Bob Uphues.