SMC bids farewell to Beckwith pylonsPublished 8:39pm Wednesday, July 17, 2013
To the editor:
As you are probably aware, the pylons outside the Dale A. Lyons Building hold a number of deteriorating busts that were once a part of the historic Beckwith Theater in downtown Dowagiac.
Throughout the past two decades, the college has investigated the feasibility of preserving the busts from further deterioration, but determined that this was impossible as these carvings were created in soft Lake Superior sandstone over 120 years ago and have simply exceeded their natural life span.
You may also have noticed that the brick pylons themselves are once again cracking significantly, even though they have been repaired several times in recent years.
The consistent report from different contractors that have inspected them is that over the past three decades gradually, and increasingly, water has entered into the masonry structure.
Over the years, that water has frozen and thawed and resulted in serious structural deterioration.
Significant structural repair of the pylons was attempted within the last few years and did not prove effective. Although one option would be to rebuild new pylons in the current location, that seemed unwarranted because the busts themselves are in such a bad state of repair.
To prevent falling bricks and to preserve the busts from any remaining deterioration, these pylons are being removed and the busts placed in museum storage.
Thank you in advance for your understanding as the removal will undoubtedly create some inconvenience.
It is sad to see these go, but safety and preservation concerns ultimately gave us no other good choice.
Dr. David M. Mathews, President
Southwestern Michigan College