2018-09-15 / Front Page

Courthouse rehab nears completion


A crew from Fiske Associates of Erie moved its massive lift from the Coudersport Consistory to the Potter County Courthouse to begin rehabilitating the clock tower and steeple. This is stage three of a major facelift at the historic courthouse that began in 2014, with much of the work being done by the county’s maintenance team. Curt Weinhold Photo A crew from Fiske Associates of Erie moved its massive lift from the Coudersport Consistory to the Potter County Courthouse to begin rehabilitating the clock tower and steeple. This is stage three of a major facelift at the historic courthouse that began in 2014, with much of the work being done by the county’s maintenance team. Curt Weinhold Photo A third and final stage of a multi-year rehabilitation project at the Potter County Courthouse got underway last week.

Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover have been incrementally repairing the iconic building that has earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fiske Associates of Erie was awarded the $60,000 contract to repair and paint the courthouse bell tower and steeple.

The $60,000 courthouse contract was awarded to the lone bidder, Fiske Associates of Erie.

A Fiske representative attended last week’s meeting to discuss project particulars.

In May 2014, county maintenance crew members found that sections of the wooden windows on the front of the building facing East Second Street had been weather-beaten and were beyond repair.

Much of the paint on all four sides of the building was chipping and peeling.

The commissioners directed maintenance director Joe Kurtz to develop a plan to incrementally replace the building’s 30-plus window frames and apply a new coat of paint.

Work was completed on the East Second Street side in 2014. Working with other staffers and community service workers referred by Potter County Probation Department, Kurtz incrementally completed the other three sides over the ensuing two years.

However, the bell tower and steeple required specialized equipment and skills.

This summer, the commissioners solicited bids and were able to strike a deal with Fiske, saving money because that firm’s crew was already working in Coudersport on a contract with the Coudersport Consistory.

“Approaching these three jobs incrementally allowed us to spread out the costs over multiple years rather than having a big hit in a single year,” Commissioner Morley. “We also saved money by having the county maintenance team perform most of the work, which I believe is a ‘first’ for Potter County.”

The brick courthouse, which was built in 1851-53, has been through many paint jobs over the years in order to maintain its appearance and protect it against the elements.

It designed was by William Bell of Warren County. It was built in the Greek Revival style, and remodeled in 1888 with more Victorian and Italian touches, including roof alterations, in 1888. The commissioners in office at that time faced political wrath for “squandering tax money” on a relatively new courthouse.

Major renovations were done in 1933- 34 through the Civil Works Administration. It was added to the National Register in 1975. That designation is part of a national program to identify, evaluate, and protect historic resources.

Last comprehensive inspection of the courthouse took place in 2007. The building was found to be fundamentally sound.

In 2008, the county was able to migrate many of its departments to the former Coudersport Elementary School at the corner of North Main and Water streets. It was donated to the county by Time Warner Cable, which had acquired several Coudersport properties in the wake of the Adelphia Communications Corp. bankruptcy.

Today, it functions as the F. W. Gunzburger County Office Building. Court-related functions, including the Sheriff’s Department and Prothonotary/ Clerk of Courts office, are still housed at the courthouse.

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