Finial damaged on courthouse

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County will spend $5,800 to address two water-damaged locations at the Courthouse because of the potential danger to the public, commissioners said Tuesday.

Access to those locations near the main entrance and the former entrance, both on the Allegheny Street side of the courthouse, is now restricted by tape.

“We’re being proactive in taking care of these concerns so there are no accidents,” Commissioner Ted Beam Jr. said.

A photograph taken for a forthcoming report detailing options to address water seepage into the courthouse shows a large crack near the base of the finial, the decorative sandstone structure atop the pointed portion of the roof on the original courthouse.

Another photograph highlights a repaired crack near the gutter and roof of the original courthouse, close to the main entrance.

“When I saw the two cracks, my reaction was: ‘Wow, don’t walk under the apple tree,'” commissioners Chairman Terry Tomassetti said.

While meeting Tuesday, commissioners voted to hire Butler Restorations of Altoona to examine the areas and undertake masonry repairs to eliminate the danger.

In the case of the finial, Butler said he needs a closer examination to determine if the risk can be addressed by securing the finial to the roof or if the finial should be removed and repaired.

The removal might generate problems too, Commissioner Diane Meling said after Tuesday’s meeting.

“Like with a house remodeling project,” she said, “when trying to address one problem creates another.”

Commissioners voted in May to have Altoona architect David B. Albright prepare a report with options and recommendations for addressing water damaged areas of the courthouse which could be undertaken along with repairs to eliminate infiltration. The cost of the proposed work is expected to be paid for with a portion of a $6 million bond issue that also will be used to pay for reassessment.

Commissioners said Tuesday that Albright’s report is not yet finished and available. But he is the one, they said, who made them aware of the potentially dangerous conditions and recommended Butler Restorations to address them.

Butler said he might be able to initiate the work next week, after further consultation with Albright who is not available this week.

The job, he said, will require the erection of scaffolding near the main entrance, probably during hours when the courthouse is closed. He said he expects to use a truck with a crane to gain access to the finial.

Meling said commissioners had talked about using the former entrance below the finial as a temporary entrance, later this year when contractors will be building a canopy outside the main entrance. That idea may rest with Butler’s progress.

“The condition of the finial was a surprise,” Meling said. “You don’t see that from standing down below.”

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.