Jun 292012

Photos by Tammy Gray -- A report prepared regarding preservation work needed for the Historic Navajo County Courthouse in downtown Holbrook notes that damage to the exterior, such as deteriorating mortar in the foundation and cracks in the brickwork, should be repaired quickly to prevent water damage. Problems in the interior, however, such as cracks in walls and damage to the courtroom ceiling, were described as mainly cosmetic and caused by water leaking into the building.

By Tammy Gray —

A minimum of $206,800 in preservation work is needed for the historic Navajo County courthouse in downtown Holbrook, according to a report prepared by Reece Angell Rowe Architects.

The report is the first step in what county and city officials hope will be a grant-driven process for com-pleting the work. County Facilities Manager Dan Hinz, who is heading up the project, explained that now that it is clear exactly what work needs to be done and in what order, it is time to start searching for funding to complete the work. Different options for the project range in cost from $206,800 to $349,300.

According to the report, “The existing building can be considered to be already protected and stabilized and rehabilitated.” Now, preservation work is necessary. Water damage is the greatest concern. As the report notes, “Work to prevent water penetration of the structure is the priority.”

With that priority in mind, the architects suggest that roof repairs be completed as soon as possible. Miss-ing and damaged shingles are allowing water to reach some areas of the interior. The report states, “Water infiltration from the roof is causing damage to the courtroom ceiling and traveling along the walls, probably causing damage to the north wall and ceiling of the area above the jail; also damage to the interior walls be-low the tower area.” It does note, however, that the basic roof structure appears to be in good condition.

Architects estimate that roof repairs could cost anywhere from $16,500 for replacing only damaged shin-gles to $85,500 to replace the entire roof. A re-roofing is recommended due to the age of the roof and its im-portance in preventing water damage.

In addition to the roof, repairing the brick walls is given a very high priority. According to the report, “The most damaged areas are where the structures of the additions were removed with no repair of the holes left in the main walls. There are also cracks from age and settling evident at window and stress locations, and general erosion of the mortar between bricks is allowing water to enter the wall, in some cases extending into the building interior.”

Cost of the brick repair is estimated at $105,000, and the report suggests that only a “well-qualified mason with experience in historic restoration” perform the work.

Gutters, downspouts, drainage and foundation repairs were given equally high priority. The architects point out that ice builds up in the gutters and downspouts in the winter months, causing damage both to the gutters and the eaves. Also, ground near the downspouts needs to be graded to direct water away from the building. The foundation has some cracks, and in several areas the mortar is deteriorating. Immediate repair is suggested to prevent serious damage.

Foundation repairs are expected to cost about $8,000. Several options are listed for the gutters, down-spouts and drainage, with a low cost of $14,000 for repairing existing materials and re-grading areas near downspouts, and a high cost of $57,000 for installing a “French drain” system in which the downspouts would drain into underground pipes, which would then carry the water far from the building to a drywell.

Windows are given “medium priority, increasing over time” in the report. It was noted that the windows are not in bad condition, but the exterior wood sashes are weathering and need to be re-finished soon to pre-vent water from entering the building. The architects estimate that it will cost about $21,000 to re-finish the exterior wood, re-caulk between the sashes and the brick, and replace any damaged window panes.

Work on the interior is given a low priority, with the report stating that most of the interior damage is cosmetic and due to water making its way into the building. Large cracks in the plaster are not structural, ac-cording to the report, and should be repaired after the exterior is made watertight. Similar observations are also made for the courtroom ceiling, in which portions of the decorative plaster have bubbled and burst open. Dips in the floor in the southwest room on the first floor, which currently houses a western display that in-cludes chuck wagon, are also listed as cosmetic rather than structural. Finally, the mechanical steam boiler is given a low priority, but replacement is suggested to

“increase both comfort and energy efficiency.”

Interior plasterwork is estimated to cost $17,800; courtroom ceiling repairs, $14,500; repairs to the south-west room floor, $15,500; and replacement of the steam boiler, $25,000.

A study completed at the same time as the architectural report to determine whether vibrations from pass-ing trains as well as traffic on Navajo Blvd. were damaging the courthouse found that they were not.

“In our opinion, the range of the very low vibration intensities recorded at this site would provide ex-tremely low probabilities of contributory damage to the structure,” Geological Consultants Inc. reported.

According to Geological Consultants, damage to the foundation and structure of the courthouse, which was repaired in 1999, was most likely due to the clay soil, shallow groundwater, and seasonal freezing and thawing.

Hinz noted that he is hopeful that now that the report is complete with specific directions for repairs, the county will be able to find appropriate grants to complete the work.