The Texas Historical Commission (THC) is allocating nearly $1.2 million to 25 counties with awards of up to $50,000 each to help plan for preserving their historic courthouses. The agency announced the grant recipients during its recent quarterly meeting in Austin.
Of the 50 counties offered the opportunity for grant assistance to undertake this master planning effort, 26 submitted funding requests. These 50 counties have a previously approved courthouse preservation master plan, but have not yet been successful in receiving full courthouse restoration funding from the THC’s Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program (THCPP). A majority of the requests came from rural counties throughout the state, where the courthouse is often a centerpiece of the community.
“The overwhelmingly positive response to this master plan update opportunity demonstrates the abiding interest of counties in partnering with the state to preserve and protect these wonderful historic assets,” said Sharon Fleming, director of the THCPP. “We anticipate many of them will be requesting state grant funds to restore their courthouses in the next grant cycle.”
Counties receiving the grant awards are: Bandera, Bell, Blanco, Burnet, Chambers, Clay, Coleman, Collin, Duval, Frio, Grayson, Hall, Hutchinson, Jefferson, Kimble, Kleberg, Limestone, Mason, McLennan, Randall, Robertson, Taylor, Upshur, Willacy, and Wise counties. A $5,000 local match is required.
“By undertaking these grant projects, we believe county officials will positively impact their communities by assessing critical infrastructure needs, engaging with stakeholders to plan the restoration of a treasured landmark, and envisioning a safer, more functional building to serve its citizens,” said THC Executive Director Mark Wolfe.
Consultation between the counties, their preservation consultants, and the THC will begin immediately, with the goal of having a revised master plan by the end of 2019 that assesses the building’s current conditions and makes appropriate recommendations to update and preserve each courthouse. The total outstanding financial need to preserve these 25 courthouses is estimated to be over $100 million.
The THCPP has invested more than $290 million in 99 Texas counties for the preservation of their courthouses. Construction activity related to the program has created nearly 11,000 jobs and generated more than $44 million in local taxes.
Round X Press Release (PDF)
Round X Score Sheet (PDF)
Full Restoration Grant Recipients
- Falls County—$5,832,430 grant award to fully restore the exterior and public interior spaces to their 1939 appearance, including the removal of existing window units, restoration of the building’s varied masonry, and the restoration of interior finishes, original hardware, and light fixtures. As with all full restoration projects, the building and its systems will be updated to comply with life safety codes and accessibility standards, including the removal of hazardous materials throughout the building. In addition, modern A/V and security systems will be carefully integrated into the historic framework of the building.
- Lipscomb County—$2,937,006 grant award to fully restore the exterior and interior public spaces of the building to their original appearance and configuration including restoration of the brick and cast stone masonry exterior of the building. Continuing work begun with funding from a Round 9 grant award, the basement stair and entry will be restored. In addition, a nonhistoric wood frame outdoor entry enclosure will be removed, while a new second vestibule door and new accessible ramp will be added in its place.
- Marion County—$4,682,610 grant award to fully restore the exterior and interior public spaces of the building to its original appearance and configuration, and to improve functionality by bringing the building into compliance with life safety code and accessibility standards, and updating the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Regrading the site will improve drainage away from the building, and severely deteriorated masonry and cast stone elements will be repaired and repointed. The removal of dropped ceilings, wood paneling, and gypsum board will reveal original decorative finishes. The wood double-hung windows were restored with an earlier grant.
- Menard County—$1,205,303 grant award to finish-out and restore the 3rd and 4th floors, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, the installation of an elevator from the 2nd floor to the upper floors, the restoration of the 4th floor roof skylight above the original sheriff’s quarters, and vault door restoration. The 3rd and 4th floors are currently unoccupied and equal approximately 20 percent of the total building area.
Emergency Grant Recipients
- Camp County—$298,269 grant award to prevent water intrusion in the basement and stabilize the two primary entry porches. The basement walls show evidence of water damage, including efflorescence of the brick. Both porticos are settling at a different rate from the main building, and the lintels supporting the entablature and basement entrances are both deteriorated to the point of near failure. The concrete apron surrounding the building must be removed to facilitate structural investigation and waterproofing of the foundation, and temporary shoring installed to support the lintels. This project will be followed by replacement of the existing non-compliant chair lift for improved accessibility.
- Coleman County—$136,555 grant award to install stainless steel helical pins in the brick masonry wall system to anchor the brick to the limestone to prevent outward deflection and detachment of the brick wall and subsequent cracking throughout the interior. The project also proposes to insert supplemental tie beams at floor lines, repair wall and floor cracks, repoint mortar, and remove biological growth from the masonry.
- Goliad County—$170,750 grant award to address the undersized roof truss girder with the installation of a carrier beam, and the poor storm water drainage system through installation of a new site drainage system. In addition, the work includes sealing penetrations in the sheet metal fascia, roof flashing, and attic windows, along with plaster and masonry crack repair.
- Kimble County—$277,269 grant award for a complete rehabilitation of the original steel windows, which have severe corrosion.
- Limestone County—$313,467 grant award to repair significant slab distress at ground level, which has led to hazardous walking conditions for patrons and staff of the building. Flooring is out of level in several rooms with cracks in the slab, resulting in a level change of several inches between sections. This has created a working hazard, especially in the room containing high-density rolling storage racks for clerk records. Repair of the slabs will likely require selective removal of the distressed areas of concrete, followed by evaluation of the soil conditions and installation of a new infill concrete slab. Additionally, the terra-cotta parapet coping is experiencing mortar loss and cracking, presenting a falling-debris hazard to persons entering and leaving the building.
- Milam County—$60,012 grant award to mitigate the water intrusion at the basement level with the installation of a French drain around the perimeter of the courthouse.
- Orange County—$176,526 grant award to reinstall marble panels at the main entry of the courthouse, which has been closed for several years because the panels were at risk of falling. The north entrance to the courthouse is currently closed due to failure of corroded steel anchors supporting marble soffit panels from the building structure. Temporary scaffolding is in place to protect the building and public from falling debris. The emergency project will remove the marble panels from the north and south entrances. These areas will be waterproofed and the marble reinstalled with non-ferrous connections.
Planning Grant Recipients
- Callahan County—$450,000 grant award to develop full architectural plans and specifications for a full restoration of the courthouse to its 1929 configuration and a complete upgrade of the building and all its systems to comply with life safety code and accessibility standards. A 1939 hospital will remain on the site of the courthouse.
- Polk County—$450,000 grant award to develop full architectural plans and specifications for a full restoration of the courthouse to its 1924 configuration, and a complete upgrade of the building and all its systems to comply with life safety code and accessibility standards. Foundation will be waterproofed, non-original coatings will be removed from exterior cast stone, steel windows will be restored, and the district courtroom restored, including the restoration of the vaulted plaster ceiling and balcony.
- Van Zandt County—$450,000 grant award to develop full architectural plans and specifications for a full restoration of the courthouse to its 1937 configuration, and a complete upgrade of the building and all its systems to comply with life safety code and accessibility standards.
Emergency Planning Grant Recipient
- Refugio County—Following extensive damage from Hurricane Harvey, this $450,000 grant award is to develop full architectural plans and specifications for a full restoration of the courthouse to either its 1917 or 1955 configuration, pending the results of a feasibility/cost analysis report. It will also include a complete upgrade of the building and all its systems to comply with life safety code and accessibility standards.