Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Status of the Courthouse

As we all know, the Columbia County Courthouse is undergoing renovation and new construction. An addition is being added at the rear of the building, and ramps for handicapped access are being added at the front.

The courthouse project was in the news again today. Nathan Mayberg reports that the Columbia County Board of Supervisors "has approved $73,700 in contract awards to Lothrop Associates LLP to design a new heating system, along with energy efficient windows": "County OKs new courthouse projects." 

The idea of replacement windows always raises red flags, but a conversation with Supervisor Sarah Sterling (First Ward), who sits on the Public Works Committee, was somewhat reassuring. According to Sterling, the new windows, sought for energy efficiency, would replicate the windows that were originally there.

Over the years, many sins have been committed against the fenestration of the courthouse for the sake of air conditioning. The first floor windows currently found on both the east and west sides of the building appear to be entirely Plexiglass, with solid white panels at the top, some of which are pierced by air conditioners. It will be nice to see these windows go and wonderful to see them replaced with windows that replicate the ones that would have been there in 1907. It would also be wonderful if the grilles on the second floor windows that were hacked to accommodate air conditioners could be restored.

Mayberg's article ends with this sentence: "A change in the windows could potentially need to be reviewed by the city of Hudson Historic Preservation Commission, as the courthouse is over 100 years old." Replacing the windows will require review by the Historic Preservation Commission, not because of the age of the building but because the building is a contributing structure in a locally designated historic district and in a historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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