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  • Restoration work for Old Courthouse yields new findings for old gem

    Feb 23, 2017 | Read More News
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    Old Courthouse restoration workRestoration work of the Old Pima County Courthouse has uncovered new evidence showing the original accent colors of the 1929 building. 

    While preparing the colonnades along Church and Pennington streets for a fresh coat of paint, county contractors exposed the first shade of blue used on the corridor ceilings and discovered the cast stone archways were initially left un-painted. 

    Since the intent of the project is to restore the building to its 1929 appearance, County officials have decided to replace the existing sky blue ceiling with the original shade and expose all of the cast stone on the archways. In addition, the white trimming beneath the windows will be repainted to match the adobe-color exterior, as depicted in historic photographs used for reference. 

    “You never know what you’re going to get when you begin to peel back the layers on restoration projects like this one and discovery of new details about old buildings is really quite common especially as restoration and rehabilitation efforts proceed,” said Linda Mayro, Pima County Office of Sustainability and dark shade is original blue color Conservation director. “Our job is to piece together the various lines of evidence sometimes from old photos and sometimes directly from the building itself. In some cases, the answer is right in front of you and in others, you really have to assemble the puzzle.”  

    County officials have relied on guidance from its team of experts to ensure the Old Courthouse maintains its historic integrity. The restoration team assigned to this project include Mayro’s Conservation Office, Facilities Management, and Poster Frost Mirto, the architecture firm hired that specializes in historic preservation. 

    These new findings have not resulted in any major cost implications for the project, however, the restoration work for the cast stone archways may cause minor delays. 

    To remove the white paint from the cast stone, the contractor must use a fine glass bead blast and water, which is a highly technical and time-consuming process. In addition, there’s some deterioration on the cast stone itself, presumably caused by water penetrating through the balcony above, that needs repair. To prevent future deterioration of these archways, the contractor has already started fixing the decking on the balcony.

    cast stone archwayThe restoration team said the deterioration of the cast stone was probably the reason why these archways were patched up and painted white during one of the Courthouse’s many renovations; however, it now appears that none of the white paint on these details was original.

    Since work began on the Old Courthouse, contractors have found several historic elements in need of repair, including the lantern on top of the dome, which has several dents; hidden water leaks; broken tile; and delaminating of a section of the dome’s top coat. They also found evidence that the Dillinger Courtroom was originally larger than currently shown, and it will be restored to its original dimensions in a future tenant improvement project. 

    The County is using leftover funds from several different projects completed under budget to fund the improvements to the Old Courthouse. 

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