Courthouse clocktower project running smoothly

Courthouse clocktower project running smoothly
MidState Contractors Inc.

Built in 1885, the Holmes County courthouse has been home to Lady Justice for nearly 140 years. She will return to the north facade of the building but will assume a higher perch, one that matches where she was located when the building was built.


Under wraps for several months now, the Holmes County courthouse clocktower has been draped in an almost silent secrecy as members of MidState Contractors Inc. out of Marion, Ohio have brought in a crane, scaffolding, and plenty of equipment and supplies in tackling the Holmes County Courthouse Clock Tower Rehabilitation Project that began in early July.

The Holmes County Courthouse Clock Tower Rehabilitation Project includes the removal and replacement of the clock tower façade with new copper and interior tower. Also included in the project will be the fabrication and installation of a new clock tower clock cupola, as well as an ornate embellishment; new metal fencing on each of the four corner dormer towers and main roof; the removal, repair and painting of a new copper base; and finally, placing the statue of Lady Justice high on the north side of the main roof gable, a position she maintained for decades before being moved to the second-floor balcony.

On Friday, Jan. 8, the Holmes County Clocktower Committee met in the Old Jail meeting room with MidState President Doug Hooper to discuss the progress and to get a picture as to when the final product might be unveiled.

It also created an opportunity for the committee members to discuss how they would like to proceed in celebrating the revitalized clocktower with the community.

Committee member Joe Miller, Holmes County commissioner, said that because they haven’t heard any complaints, that generally means things are going according to plan.

Hooper said it has all gone very well as they proceed toward the hopeful completion this fall.

“We are looking at revealing the tower sometime in late April,” Hooper said. “When we take the plastic off, the copper will be on, the scaffolding will be removed and there should be a big ‘wow’ to it.”

Asked if they had experienced any surprises or set-backs during the project thus far, Hooper said, “While the clocktower might look square from the ground, they found that it was very skewed, making the process of squaring all of the planes and angles more difficult. I don’t think you could ever tell from the ground, but if you took a birds-eye view, it would be obvious.”

Other than that, it has gone well. “Back when it was built, they didn’t have the luxury of having 3-Ds like we have today, where we can drill holes and everything is perfect. It doesn’t take much off to add up quickly,” Hooper said.

Hooper said all of the steel has been cleaned and repainted, all of the balusters are built, and the copper pieces have been ready to place. He also said they did a good deal of work on the staircase leading up to the clocktower’s top, which previously was very precarious. They made the stairs safer and wider and added handrailing.

Lady Justice also was a big part of the renovation process. Weathered and worn, MidState repainted her a pearl color, giving her a knew sword and scale, and the fencing is completed but not yet placed on the towers. Lady Justice will eventually be uplit to showcase her.

“We will definitely want her lit up,” Miller said.

Hooper shared the projects progress, providing photos of the inside of the tower and the changes that have taken place that the community can’t yet see. The bell under the clock level also has been cleaned and replaced to its former perch, and MidState added a copper roof to replace the former wooden flooring that had rotted, not uncommon for a clocktower built in 1884.

“All of the wood boards have been 100% replaced,” Hooper said. “It was time for some TLC to be done to it, and we added some extra structural supports to the wood deck where the bell is housed.”

Hooper said the hammer that strikes the bell has been fixed to create a huge reverberation to the sound, and they replaced the louvers around the bell’s four walls, allowing a much bigger sound to waft from the tower.

“It’s more open now, and people are going to notice a difference in the sound,” Hooper said.

Once the project has been completed, Miller said it adds another unique piece of history that should be interesting for the local community, as well as something that will entice people from out of town to visit.

“Everybody that comes in and stops in at Millersburg and walks around town, they are always looking up there (at the tower),” Miller said. “It will be awesome to look at when you’re coming in from the east.”

“All you’re going to see coming in from both the east and the west is bright, shining copper with lights on it,” Hooper said. “It’s going to be lit beautifully.”

With many counties turning to more modern buildings to serve as courthouses, these old, stoic courthouses are becoming a scarcity, and the committee thinks this one will have a great deal of appeal once completed.

“It’s definitely a beautiful building,” said Judge Andrew Hyde, who presented the project committee with nearly $180,000 from his court’s funds to attack the renovation project.

As MidState continues to move toward its completion date next spring, the committee members believe the buzz around the big unveiling will be something special, and the renovations should last many years.

The committee members include Mark Leininger, Chris Young, Susan Schie, Arnie Oliver, Miller, Hyde and McDowell.

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