Wood County Courthouse repairs underway

PARKERSBURG – The Wood County Courthouse, which will be celebrating its 115th anniversary this year, is showing its lines and wrinkles.

Temporary repairs were being completed Friday on the Market Street side entrance of the courthouse where cracked and deteriorating tile is actually causing a drop in the floor level. County commissioners plan to apply for a grant through the Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority to pay for a more permanent solution because the same situation is also developing at the main Third Street entrance as well.

“The tile is deteriorating and will continue to deteriorate causing the floor to drop inside and out, and may ultimately affect the new steps. This is the sub-base and will continue to deteriorate, this past winter was very hard plus the age of the courthouse,” said County Administrator Marty Seufer.

The stone outside, which contains the tile inlay with the script Wood County on it was laid then grinded down to make it smooth when it was originally installed, officials said.

“It may not be possible to save the original tile,” Seufer said.

Jeff Garrett, a stone mason from Charleston who worked on the steps and porches, did the repair work on the Market Street side entrance last week. The cost for the repairs was about $1,000. Seufer said Garrett did a core drill and made the patch repairs.

David Paige, of David’s Stone of Marietta was asked to look over the longer term project to provide a cost estimate that can be used in the grant proposal. If the grant is awarded, the project would be bid out, but the county has to provide a cost estimate for the project to the authority.

The new grant cycle begins in the fall.

One door at the Market Street entrance has been closed off for several days, but should be reopened this week.

Last year restoration work was completed on two porches that used to grace the front of the courthouse. That work as well as the restoration of the steps on both entrances was done by David’s Stone, of Marietta.

The county received a $28,400 West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement grant for the porch project. There is a 20 percent local match required for the grant. The bid for the work was awarded earlier to David’s Stone LLC for $33,711.47.

Paige, owner and general manager of the firm, told The Parkersburg News and Sentinel earlier the handcarved limestone being used on the new third floor porches, is the same Indiana limestone used in the Empire State Building and on the courthouse steps.The porches, on the fountain side of the historic courthouse, are outside the third floor offices of the building. The original porches had apparently become deteriorated and were removed during 1983-1984 renovations. Restoration included a stone rail on the top and bottom and balusters in-between. Paige said he utilizes a fifth generation stonecutter for the stone carving work.

The courthouse was completed in 1899 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The courthouse took nearly two years to complete at a cost of $100,000.

Paige’s firm was also the successful bidder for the earlier renovation of the courthouse steps. The county was awarded a $62,400 West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority for that project.

In 2001, the West Virginia Legislature created the courthouse authority to evaluate the needs of the state’s courthouses and estimate potential costs for renovations and repairs. The authority oversees a special revenue account made up of a portion of the fees collected for county services, such as marriage licenses and copying fees for tax maps. Counties can annually apply for the grants.

The funding can be used for anything related to courthouses or any other county-owned buildings used for county operations.