Roof repaired, clocks preserved

Friday, May 7, 2010
Tribune photo by Clint Confehr A subcontractor's painter rolls on another coating over one of the clock towers' copper tops.

With only a few "touch ups" left on the roof, restoration of the top of the Marshall County Courthouse was finished late last month.

Chase Construction, the general contractor had the $410,770 contract. Project manager Billy Gatlin spoke about the job last week with architect James Kennon and Jennifer Henriksen, a historical consultant.

"The materials for this were the same as for the Parthenon in Nashville," Kennon said.

Henriksen, who came to Tennessee from Michigan for such projects, marveled at the cast concrete that was used for the structure built during the Great Depression; "and that it was used for the decorative finish."

Gatlin noted the blocks were numbered, apparently for places referenced in the plans.

"It's amazing," Gatlin said. "The oak leaves and the shield had to be formed."

Kennon agreed.

"You have to carve it in reverse," he said.

The recently completed project has been referred to as Phase No. 1 by the architects, contractors and subcontractors, largely because their work has been limited to the cornice and parts of the building higher than that. The cornice is the narrow ledge around the building at the roof's wall.

Restoration of the courthouse was undertaken to stop leaks and preserve the top of the structure. The weekend's rainstorms tested the work.

"We pulled ceiling tile and insulation and found it dry and no evidence of water coming from the roof," said Don Nelson, director of building and codes for the county.

Water had been found under a desk in the Circuit Court Clerk's office.

"We feel it's from the window," Nelson said. "I found evidence of that at the stairway window as well."

The roofer and building contractor were at the building Tuesday morning to see for themselves and agreed with Nelson's conclusion.

"The metal flashing is a big help to protect against water," Henriksen said last week before the rainstorms were seen as such a threat to Middle Tennessee.

Previously, the roof membrane was over the wall," she said.

Gatlin said Phase No. 1 was "officially finished" on April 23, but that in addition to touch ups on the roof, the contractor's men would eliminate some ruts left in the courthouse lawn as a result of the placement of equipment during the work.

As for Phase No. 2, Gatlin said, "It's just a matter of money."

He's well aware of the budget problems facing county commissioners as they're assembling all the parts of the revenue and spending plan for the county.

"The sad thing is that it's probably the best time to do anything," Gatlin said of the buyer's market for construction projects. "I have seen jobs go for 20-30 percent cheaper."