Friday, March 1, 2013

Frightening Suggestion

Yesterday Nathan Mayberg reported in the Register-Star that asbestos remediation at the courthouse was going to cost more than anticipated: "Asbestos at courthouse could cost $165K more." The presence of asbestos in the courthouse should probably come as no surprise. Before it was discovered that asbestos could cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, it was valued for its fire resistance--something that was preeminent in the minds of the people who built the courthouse in 1907. The previous courthouse had burned to the ground only seven years after it had been built, and, to make certain this didn't happen again, the new courthouse was constructed entirely of stone and metal--including the original furniture--and they probably added asbestos to be sure the building was completely fire resistant.

One sentence toward the end of the article about asbestos strikes terror in the preservationist's heart: "The supervisors are also considering replacing windows at the courthouse. . . ." Replacement windows in our magnificent Beaux Arts Warren and Wetmore courthouse? 

Say it ain't so.


  1. If Courthouse is in Historic District of Hudson, regardless if it's a County building...How can they be exempt from Historic Preservation Laws?

  2. It's definitely possible to get new windows that can exactly match the old ones in appearance, and be superior in terms of noise reduction, insulating power &c.

    It's just going to be expensive.

    I was in charge of replacing 171 windows in a building in the Greenwich Village Historic District in New York City. Pella did a beautiful job of custom work. It cost a lot, but the windows were of the highest quality and satisfied extremely stringent requirements (NYC is TOUGH in these areas -- we had to try three different colors of mortar before they would approve the repointing).

    it can be done.

  3. Hi Carole,

    I don't know. One would have to ask Pella.

    I have a feeling however that they can -- there must be a lot of old windows like that that need replacement across the USA and that's a big part of Pella's business I think.

    Is there an architect or builder or contractor on the list who knows?

    -- Jock Spivy

  4. The first question to ask is this: Is the county exempt from chapter 169? Can someone show me where it says that because I can't find it. The county should have presented to the HPC and sought a C of A before any permits were issued, whether the City waived the fee or not.

    The second question is: WHY are supervisors "also considering replacing windows at the courthouse." What is wrong, definitively, with the windows which are part of the historic fabric of this structure? The fenestration is one of the character-defining features of the Beaux Arts style, so there should be a compelling reason to replace them. A recommendation from a GC, who just so happens to benefit financially from such a change order, should be investigated further.

    I find it very frustrating that the municipal and county governments would be deemed exempt from the Historic Preservation Commission's oversight. Exempt or not, how disappointing that they don't want to be at the forefront, leading by example in the historic preservation movement where publicly-owned, institutional structures are concerned..

  5. Whats up with all these economic 'surprises?'

    Weren't professionals involved with the original plans and cost estimates?

    Asbestos and Windows are such obvious considerations you have to be blind to miss them as issues ... I would 'think!'