Major renovation underway at Lucas County Courthouse

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By Lissa Guyton | 


The Lucas County Courthouse has been a centerpiece of the downtown landscape for more than 100 years. A major renovation project is underway to preserve its rich history, and crews are going straight to the top to start things off.

The courthouse first opened in 1897, and it cost about $300,000 to build. The original work has held up well through the decades, but now the building is in need of some major repairs.

Judge Gene Zmuda is the Administrative Judge of Lucas County Common Pleas Court, “When they built the courthouse in the 1890s, it was made to last. Some of the walls in the building are three feet thick. No one really builds buildings like that anymore, unfortunately.”

The courthouse has lasted for more than a century, but the wear and tear of 120 years of use has taken its toll on the building.

Judge Zmuda says the judges and county commissioners have worked together to help repair the landmark, “It is the oldest publicly open building in Lucas County. When it was built, believe it or not, all county offices were housed in the building.”

The repair work being done right now is all happening at the highest point, the dome.

Jeff Nowak is the Lucas County Capital Projects Manager,”The repairs that are being done now are not hasty. They are not being done just to do them. We are taking a measured approach to the renovation to keep in line with the historical aspects of the building.”

Nowak says there are several parts to the work on the dome, including the restoration of some of the masonry work.”We’ll be doing tuck-pointing, sealing, caulking, making it weather tight. There is some leaking going on right now, and deterioration in that area.” Future work will also be done on the dome itself, the finial and the ball on top.

A specialty contractor that focuses on the preservation of historic buildings is doing the work Nowak says a lot of the work is custom, “We don’t have full records for the building, so we’ve had to do some additional engineering like whether or not the roof can handle the weight of the scaffold. So we had to start from scratch on some things.”

The initial work has a price tag of just under $700,000,”The money comes from the county’s Capital Improvement Program. It has been budgeted for and will be as we determine what we need in the future.”

Making sure the building is part of Lucas County’s future has been rewarding for Nowak, “It is really an honor to be part of this project. It is a once in a lifetime thing for myself and everyone involved. We are truly a part of history.”

Judge Zmuda says thanks to all this work, the courthouse will be a part of our community for generations to come,”It is a magnificent building. I want to make sure I leave behind a building that is better suited for the next generation that it was when we got it.”

The repairs on the dome are just the start of the renovation work. Engineers will be assessing the building both inside and out this fall, so that any future projects can be put in the budget pipeline.



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