Good as new

Rehab aims to extend life of Courthouse

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Julie Butler, lead project manager and preservation director for the Durable Slate Co., spoke to the Warren County Commissioners on Monday regarding roof repairs at the courthouse.

It might be 130 years old, but the Warren County Courthouse roof looks like new.

Julie Butler, lead project manager and preservation director for the Durable Slate Co. spoke at Monday’s commissioners work session.

“This was a functional repair rather than an aesthetic one,” Butler said, calling the work “sorely needed. The work we completed absolutely will functionally fix some of the issues you were dealing with. (I) feel confident that you won’t be seeing any issues in the near future or far future.”

One of the challenges for the public is that the courthouse is, well, tall.

“It didn’t look terrible from far away,” Butler said. But she explained that paint flakes would blow off the building on windy days and “was really just falling off in some places.”

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Painted metal work on the roof of the Warren County Courthouse that was recently completed as part of a renovation.

She detailed all of the work that was completed on the roof – and it was a lengthy list, which included lead paint abatement.

“(There is) a lot more copper under there than you would ever believe,” she said.

“It is interesting to note how much metal detail there is on this historic structure,” she told the commissioners, noting the work is “very unique to this time period.”

The historic portion of the courthouse was completed in the 1880s.

Butler said the courthouse was completed in the same style as the Louvre and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the White House in Washington D.C. She explained that many buildings in that style were torn down in the 1950s.

“You are all very lucky to have this structure,” Butler emphasized, indicating that this work “shows the general public (that) restoration isn’t a quick fix…. Historic structures aren’t static. (They) must live, must move forward. You have a lot of historic fabric here.”

But restoration wasn’t their only job.

Part of their work was undoing repairs that weren’t done correctly the first time.

Such as the 347 caulk joints that were “all over areas that had clearly seen water infiltration.”

Beyond that, she noted that caulk is only a five-year fix.

Some of the wood also needed to be replaced and had to be replaced with a different type, Butler said, because the original type went extinct about 100 years ago.

“It looks good,” she said. “I’m really pleased with the way it would function.”

“I think when you pass by a structure,” she said, “if (it is) part of your cultural heritage, it is the same as its always been to you. I like how bright our restoration is here.”

The restoration also reveals the minute detail in the metal work, specifically around the windows.

The commissioners spent some time discussing the next steps for the project

Butler noted the down spouts should be replaced eventually but are “not an immediate need.”

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin noted that he would like to see two urns put back on the roof where they once where.

“There are other things that didn’t get painted,” she added.

Eggleston said that includes “everything below the roof line” and said the board had previously discussed separating the work into two projects.

He said he was “really impressed with all the detail work,” calling it “so fascinating.”


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