Nov 302011

By Teri Walker–

The Historic Navajo County Courthouse in Holbrook will undergo a structural assessment this week to determine what restoration is needed for the 113-year-old building that was once the center of justice for Navajo County.

Prompted by concerns expressed by members of the Navajo County Historical Society related to cracks and other signs of deterioration, Navajo County has engaged engineers to evaluate the roof, exterior walls and footings of the building, which was constructed in 1898.

Holbrook City Manager Ray Alley said the county has a $10,000 grant that will be used to fund the assessment of the courthouse, located at 100 E. Arizona Street, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is managed by the Navajo County Historical Society.

Historical Society President Paul DoBell said the assessment would clear the way for the society to apply for additional grants to accomplish the improvements identified through the engineering study.

“We need to start setting priorities with the city and county to repair the building, then research what grants are out there that we can target to get the work done,” said DoBell.

DoBell explained that his organization sat down with representatives with the city and county about a year ago to discuss concerns related to roof leaks, exposed exteriors that are allowing water into the sandstone walls, and cracks that could represent problems with the foundation or perhaps additional water damage.

Alley said it’s too early to know what the extent of the problems are with the building. “After we hear the results of the assessment, we’ll see what our next steps will be,” said Alley.

The city is responsible for internal maintenance of the courthouse, while Navajo County is tasked with maintaining the exterior, Alley said.

The courthouse operated as the official Navajo County Courthouse until 1976, when the Navajo County Complex was built at the south end of Holbrook.

Today, the courthouse, which includes a jail, houses the Historical Society, Holbrook Chamber of Commerce, the Old West Museum, a research library and archives and an Arizona Office of Tourism visitor center.

Alley did not have an estimated date when he expected to receive the report generated by structural engineers. The assessment will take place this Thursday, Dec. 1.

The Historic Navajo County Courthouse, built in 1898, served as the center of justice for Navajo County for 78 years before being retired. Now a structural assessment is being completed to determine what restoration work is necessary.