Courthouse tower could be up by end of year

Chamberlain, Wickersham update Rotarians on renovation



The Logan County Courthouse tower could be in place by the end of this year, although more serious structural work to the roof likely will prevent court workers from returning to the building until sometime next year, officials told members of the Bellefontaine Rotary Club on Monday.

The courthouse tower was removed after a June 29, 2012, windstorm caused significant structural damage. Midstate Contractors Inc. is handling the restoration.

To date, the county has paid $1.8 million to remove the old tower and upgrade the Carnegie Building where court officials are being temporarily housed, Logan County Commissioner Dustin Wickersham and project liaison Doug Chamberlain said. Up to $2.8 million more is needed to build and install the new tower with additional money needed for pre-existing damage to the roof.

The project will be funded partially by insurance claims from the storm damage, casino revenues and money that can later be collected from other agencies that will be housed in the Carnegie Building. But it will not entail new taxes, the two officials said.

While the project includes the essentials, it does not include some of the wish list items, such as restoration of the historic ceiling in the upstairs courtroom.

The original plaster ceiling has not seen the light of day for more than 120 years. The estimated $2 million cost of that restoration, however, will likely prove to be cost-prohibitive at this point, Mr. Chamberlain told the Rotarians.

The commission is still considering updates to the mechanical systems, including electric, heating and ventilation, which engineers from Garmann/Miller & Associates of Minster estimated could cost up to $3.5 million.

Work, however, has begun to restore the tower’s Lady Justice statue and it is expected to be complete in the near future, Mr. Chamberlain noted.

The ongoing work will also add approximately 3,500 square feet of storage space.

The existing courthouse is the fourth in Logan County’s history.

The first court, presided over by a traveling judge, opened Dec. 30, 1817, inside Edwin Mathers’ Tavern, Mr. Chamberlain said.

The second was “a stout wooden structure” that served residents from 1822 to 1834 before also becoming a tavern.

The third, which was adjacent to the current site, was built in 1833 as the “first permanent courthouse.” Although it was considered an unappealing building, Mr. Chamberlain said, it fulfilled its usefulness until the current one was built in 1870 at a cost of $105,000.

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