Finishing Touch

Rehabbed Jefferson County
Courthouse re-opens

Celebration planned Aug. 26
to dedicate newly restored
fire-ravaged building

"I think the move’s gone very smoothly.
Everybody’s worked as a team."
– County Auditor Celeste Reed

By Laura Hodges
Contributing Writer

2011 August Edition Cover

August 2011
Edition Cover

MADISON, Ind. (August 2011) – "It looks a little different than the last time I was here,” said firefighter David Carlow wryly when he got his first look at the newly restored Circuit Courtroom at the Jefferson County Courthouse. The room is freshly plastered and painted, with decorative plaster molding restored to the high ceiling and all furnishings refinished.
Carlow’s last visit was as a firefighter in full turnout gear, with an active fire hose in hand. It was the evening of May 20, 2009. The Jefferson County Courthouse roof had been destroyed as a result of an accident fire.
After the fire had been mostly extinguished, Carlow was among other firefighters entering the courthouse’s third floor.
“It was not safe to be up here then,” said Carlow, “but we had to check for hot spots.”
“I was probably standing about by that window,” he said, gesturing to the south side of the room. “You could see sky through the ceiling. The roof had collapsed and beams were lying around at an angle, where they had burned through. You could tell the dome was unsafe. All this room was covered by a false ceiling. You could see bits and pieces of it. You could figure what the room would have looked like before the false ceiling was installed.”
The false ceiling has been removed as part of the restoration and the courtroom has a much grander appearance now. After a pause to look about him, Carlow concluded, “It looks a lot better now.”
Other firefighters will soon get the opportunity to see the courthouse restored to its former glory.

Courthouse Re-build

Seventeen volunteer fire companies fought the Jefferson County Courthouse fire and another six companies from outside the county stood by at local firehouses to cover other emergencies in the county. The firefighters from those 23 units will be the focus of honor and appreciation at the rededication of the courthouse on Friday, Aug. 26.
A committee of Jefferson County officials and other citizens has been planning the occasion for months as contractors worked to complete the $6.5 million restoration project.
Employees began moving in to the building during the last week of July. County Auditor Celeste Reed, the first to make the move from her office at the MainSource Bank building, said, “I think the move’s gone very smoothly. Everybody’s worked as a team.” She said a crew of female offenders from the Madison Correctional Unit assisted the county employees.

Jefferson County
Re-Dedication Agenda

Friday, Aug. 26
10:30 a.m.:
Volunteer Firemen Panoramic photo 10:55 a.m.: Moment of Silence for Madison Regatta Accident Victims
11:00 a.m.: American Legion Color Guard Presentation
11:10 a.m.: National Anthem – Ms. Faith Todd
11:15 a.m.: Remarks by City of Madison Fire Chief Steve Horton
11:20 a.m.: Formal Presentation of Appreciation to Participating Volunteer Fire Depts.
Noon: Recognition of Jefferson County Employees (Past and Present)
12:10 p.m.: The Honorable Ted R. Todd, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge – ”Jefferson County Courthouse: A People's Faith in the Rule of Law”
12:20 p.m.: The Honorable Alison T. Frazier, Jefferson Superior Court Judge (introduction of the Chief Justice of Indiana)
12:30 p.m.: The Honorable Randall T. Shepard, Chief Justice of Indiana, to speak.
12:45 p.m.: Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony to open up the Courthouse (Madison Area Chamber of Commerce and Jefferson County Commissioners)
1 p.m.: Jefferson County Courtrooms Seal Setting – Jefferson County Bar Association.

Saturday, Aug. 27
Public Open House and Tours of the Courthouse from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., every 15 minutes.
The Old Jail will be also be open for public tours.
Free patriotic concert by the Madison Community Band from 11 a.m. - noon. Jefferson County students will be giving guided tours. Student essays and pictures will be on display. Dupont Elementary and Lydia Middleton Elementary schools will be honored for contributing to the Courthouse Restoration Fund. The Courthouse Bell will be on display in its new permanent location on the southwest lawn.
The Jefferson County Historical Society will have displays of the history of the Jefferson County Courthouse and of the May 20, 2009, fire. Author Michael Moore available to sell and sign copies of his book, “Tribute to Volunteer Firefighters.” Jefferson Street, south of Main and north of Second, will be closed from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. on Friday. Parking is available in the city lot south of Second Street.

Reed, who is also an interior designer, picked the colors, carpeting and furniture for the building. “I wanted it to blend, to feel comfortable and calming. I wanted it to come across as being professional, because we are professional in serving the public here. I wanted to give the building the respect it deserved,” she said.
“We’re blessed to still have our old courthouse,” she said.
The Jefferson County Courthouse was built in 1854 and 1855, at a cost of $36,000. It was designed in the Classic Revival style by architect David Dubach of Hannibal, Mo.
The 2009 fire occurred at the very end of a $160,000, historically faithful exterior restoration project that was to be completed in Madison’s bicentennial year, 2009. The project included brick and limestone repairs, painting and a new roof, since the roof had not been replaced since a major remodeling of the courthouse in 1959-61.
Workers were putting the finishing touches on the roof on May 20, 2009. Accidental sparks smoldered unnoticed for a time before the fire was reported around 6 p.m.
The blaze caused damage to the roof and cupola, but the main damage to the courthouse was the million gallons of water that was pumped in to keep the fire from spreading to other downtown buildings.
Electronic Restoration Services Inc. was hired to organize, remove, freeze and restore computer and paper documents gathered from inside the courthouse. Three semi-truck loads of material were hauled to Livonia, Mich., in the document restoration project.
The Jefferson County Commissioners started immediately to stabilize the 164-year-old brick structure and prepare it for restoration. American StructurePoint of Indianapolis was selected as the architectural engineering firm to lead the project. Harmon Construction worked through the early, snowy months of 2010 to replace the roof. Campbellsville Industries constructed a dome and cupola, which were placed atop the roof in October 2010. RE Dimond of Indianapolis designed the heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems, and Nading Mechanical of Hope, Ind., was the contractor for that work.
The interior demolition of damaged areas began in December 2010.
The final stage has been the interior rehabilitation, completed during the last seven months by HGC of Cincinnati. As general contractor, HGC had 30 subcontractors working. An average of 20 to 25 workers was onsite at any given time.
Although completing the work in seven months was a challenge, project manager Charlie Cravens of HGC said, “I feel great about it. It was a good experience and a great project overall. We hope the commissioners are happy with it.”
He said the major contractors HGC worked with were Wullenweber & Sons Plastering for plaster work, E.B. Miller Contracting for painting; McCool Plaster & Drywall Inc. for plaster flatwork and drywall; Riverside Carpet One for flooring; Santarossa Mosaic and Tile for refinishing the existing terrazzo floor, SSRG Structural Systems Repair Group for masonry restoration and tuckpointing, and Stanton Millworks for custom casework and millwork.
Wayne Keaton, a lifelong Madison resident and the lead carpenter with HGC Construction, spent six months working on the interior of the courthouse. “They really went all out. It looks nice,” he said of the nearly finished product.

Treasurer Staff

Photo by Don Ward

From left, County Treasurer Linda
Greene and staff members Diane Tilley
and Linda Shimfessel discuss computer
setup with the Information Tech Susan
Carter on July 27, the first day of moving
into the newly rebuilt Jefferson
County Courthouse.

Keaton said new features that were not previously in the building include the new elevator, sprinkler system, fire alarms, energy efficient lighting and automatic switches, and steel bracing in the walls and floors. Half-inch steel braces were installed 14 inches into the walls to provide more support and tie in the walls and floors, rather than relying on pockets in the brick supporting the weight.
Hand-hewn beams that were notched to support flooring were removed and replaced with steel beams. On the second floor, the HGC crew took out cinder blocks that had been used to create office walls. They were replaced with thinner drywall walls. This eliminated extra weight and allowed more space for offices.
Most importantly for modern offices, the job included a significant electrical upgrade to support computers. There is new emergency lighting that comes on in case of a power outage. A speaker system announces instructions in case of fire.
Keaton said he enjoyed getting to work on landmark building in his own hometown. “The historic part of Madison means a lot to me. I remember as I was growing up sitting on the wall outside the courthouse and listening to stories from the old timers,” he said. “I’ve really been blessed and proud to be able to work on the Courthouse.”
Joanne Siebert worked with Wullenweber & Sons Plastering on restoring the courtroom ceiling on the third floor. “It was a big project. I’m glad they’re putting back the original cornice. If we can get them to put it back to the original colors that would be even more gratifying,” she said.

Courthouse Crown Molding

Photo by Don Ward

Crown molding on the ceiling of the
third floor courtroom has been recreated
by local plaster expert Terry Wullenweber,
who used the original molds.

The original 1855 courtroom had more than 300 linear feet of decorative plaster cornice. It had been hidden behind a drop ceiling for years. After the 2009 fire, some of the original cornice was salvaged and hand-stripped. Wullenweber & Sons was able to make molds from the originals for a faithful reproduction. With a little of the original plaster plus footage they had made, the crew put back 90 feet of cornice.
She and her partner, Terry Wullenweber, worked 10 to 12 hour days for seven weeks, taking only three Sundays off to accomplish the project on the aggressive timetable required.
“Overall it’s very satisfying to see the final results,” said County Commissioner Tom Pietrykowski. “There was so much to this project. People can’t imagine all the red tape.”
“We’ve been trying to be sensitive to the historic factor, but there’s a limit to what you an do. We have made it more modern and efficient,” said Pietrykowski. He cited the energy efficient HVAC system and top-grade CAD 6 computer wiring as examples of ways the building has been upgraded for the 21st century. He said essentially the county has created a modern building inside a historic shell.
Now that the restoration is complete and county officials are again conducting business in the courthouse, preservationists are pleased that the project was completed in a historically sensitive manner.

Wayne Keaton

Photo by Don Ward

Madison resident
and HGC Construction
worker Wayne Keaton
installs new hand
rails on July 27.

“It’s a really well done project,” said John Staicer, executive director of Historic Madison Inc. “It just looks so nice to see the dome, at night to see the clock faces glowing, the chain link fences down, activity over there.”
With others, Staicer had helped select the architect and guide the direction of the courthouse project. “I am personally thrilled the commissioners made the decision to rehabilitate the courthouse. I think it looks great. It’s a credit to our county officials, and I hope it serves the officials and citizens of Jefferson County for the next 150 years.”

Back to August 2011 Articles.



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