Lincoln courthouse dome to receive facelift

August 11, 2003|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - After years of pigeon attacks, thunderstorms and hail, the Lincoln County Courthouse dome soon will be repaired, thanks in part to a $200,000 transportation grant.

"I got notified about a week ago that we were getting the grant," said Judge-Executive R.W. "Buckwheat" Gilbert. "I had been told we weren't going to get it."

The courthouse restoration project received the federal transportation funds through the state, in part because of the courthouse's proximity to one of Kentucky's oldest roads.

"The courthouse faces the Wilderness Trail here, and Lincoln County is one of the three original counties. That's how we tried to sell it," said Gilbert, who acknowledged Sen. Ed Worley, D-Richmond, for helping the county receive the grant.


Funds for the restoration originally had been appropriated from the county budget. Since no grants had been foreseen, construction bids were advertised weeks before the grant was awarded. Bids will be accepted next week, beginning at 9 a.m. on August 13.

"I really was shocked when we got the money, and when Sen. Worley called me, I was tickled pink," said Gilbert.

Grant expected to cover two-thirds of the cost

The grant is expected to cover about two-thirds of the project, which will replace the damaged white tin panels with copper, as well as add copper box gutters and down spouts.

Construction crews will face the difficult task of repairing the century-old dome, original lumber intact, which has been plagued with leaks and rotting wood for more than a decade.

"It's been an ongoing thing for 10, 12 years. The jury upstairs had to sit beside five-gallon buckets."

Inside the tri-level dome windows panes are broken and dead pigeons litter the ground. Before the preliminary cleaning, dried bird droppings sat three inches thick on the floor. In the clock tower, quick fix patches and lights represent decades, a home extension cord from the sixties, fluorescent lights from the eighties.

Vance Mitchell, facilities officer for the state, is working with Garlan Vanhook, of Vanhook Architecture, to make sure quick fixes don't continue to destroy the historic courthouse. Both men are donating their time to the project.

"We want to do it the right way, using in-kind materials," said Mitchell. In-kind construction would entail using period-accurate materials, such as metal shingles, rather than modern building supplies.

Mitchell, Vanhook have assisted other courthouse restorations

Mitchell said he and Vanhook had assisted courthouse restorations across the state, and had volunteered to help with the Stanford project to assure the historical integrity of the building.

"When he's involved with the project, you can rest assured it will be done historically correct," Mitchell said of Vanhook.

Mitchell said he hoped construction will begin in about three- to- four weeks, after a bid has been accepted. Though the in-kind materials will raise the total costs, Mitchell said it would be well worth the price.

"The courthouse is your anchor of downtown," said Mitchell. "If this building is not worth preserving, what is?"

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