Hefty estimate

Study shows repairs to Warren County Courthouse running just over $918,000

The rust and peeling paint are clearly visible.

It’s no secret that the roof has been leaking.

But the Warren County Courthouse is one of the most iconic structures and the Warren County Commissioners have commissioned a study to serve as the first step in a process to make all the needed repairs.

That study estimates the cost to make those repairs at just over $918,000.

According to the executive summary prepared by R.W. Larson Associates, P.C., of Warren, the study was commissioned “to review certain exterior deferred maintenance items and historic improvements” at the courthouse.

The original portion of the courthouse was constructed in 1876 – with a significant renovation in 1998 – and expanded in 1925, 1980 and 2003.

The 1876 and 1925 portions of the courthouse were the focus of the study.

A sizable portion of the study focuses on the roof and gutter systems.

A state roof consultant, Joseph Jenkins, who has worked on slate roofs around the world including the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, D.C., was retained and concluded that “slate roof observations to date are that the roof appears to be in fair to good condition with some loose, broken and missing slates. Slates on the original 1876 building will need to be refastened and missing slates replaced as needed…. There are areas of the 1925 slate roof that are recommended to be replaced.”

Officials concluded that the “flat roof of the 1925 addition may be at the end of its useful life.”

“Brick and stone masonry are in need of some attention but in relatively good shape for the age of the building,” the summary states.

The study indicates that some of the masonry walls are “showing signs of wear” but are “structurally sound but in need of rehabilitation.”

That rehabilitation will include spot brick pointing and brick replacement as well as “removing previous mortar that doesn’t match” and repair with mortar that matches the original “color as closely as possible.”

Cracks in the copper gutter system need fixed as well and the study recommends all new downspouts.

“Paint is peeling from the metal trim, ridge pas, caps, fascia, soffits and pediments and rust is starting to show in many places,” the study adds, suggesting scraping, rust removal, soldering where needed and them a fresh coat of primer and paint.

Other exterior improvements recommended include line painting to connect the building to “accessible pedestrian walkways and suggests a parking lot reconfiguration as a “future consideration.”

Sidewalk replacements are also included in the study.

While the courthouse has been leaking for years, the study indicates that the only wood that needs replaced is a portion of the structure that holds the statue in place on the peak of the original 1876 structure.

The courthouse is one of several sites in Warren County listed on the National register of Historic Places.

According to the summary, “any exterior work performed on the (courthouse) will need to be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Museum prior to construction commencing.

Of the total $918,200 projected cost, the biggest ticket items are $310,000 for painting, $295,000 for masonry repair and $80,000 each for slate roof repairs and the replacement of the flat roof on the 1925 portion.

The architects acknowledge that “funding is limited and (the) anticipated project scope exceeds available funding” and that the Commissioners would need to prioritize the items identified.