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Renovations to close courthouse

June 21, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The courtroom of Franklin County's old courthouse is scheduled to be closed for more than a month this summer so it can be repaired and remodeled.

The Franklin County Commissioners last Tuesday received two bids on the work, which includes new paint, carpeting and structural repairs, according to county Administrative Assistant Brian Kelly. He said the old courtroom is scheduled to be closed from July 20 to Sept. 1.

Eagle Construction Co. of Greencastle, Pa., was the low bidder at $81,170. The other bid was for $98,900 from R.A. Hill Inc. of Chambersburg. Gregory Lambert of the engineering firm Nassaux-Hemsley Inc. of Chambersburg, said the bids were above the firm's estimates of $50,000 to $75,000 for the work.

The commissioners could vote to award or reject the bids this week.

While the tops of columns surrounding the courtroom are draped in blue plastic to catch falling plaster, Lambert said the most serious problems can't be seen.

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Some floor joists in the attic are split and the system of hangers from which the plaster ceiling is suspended need to be replaced. Lambert said the ceiling is sagging slightly.

The courtroom where President Judge John Walker presides was built in 1865, the year after Confederate raiders torched it and the rest of Chambersburg.

R.A. Hill, which recently completed repairs to the courthouse's clock tower, estimated repairs to the ceiling and attic at $67,900. Eagle Construction estimated the repairs at $30,751.

A portion of the structural repairs are covered by a Keystone Historic Preservation grant, according to Kelly. The painting and carpet would have to be paid for out of the county's maintenance budget.

The clock tower repair cost about $60,000, according to Kelly. Another project - replacing the brownstone steps of the building - will be done by Keystone Waterproofing of Latrobe, Pa., for approximately $97,000.

Lambert said problems getting the stone from Ohio have caused the schedule for that project to slip behind by several weeks.

It was supposed to be done before next month's ChambersFest, but will now begin after the annual celebration marking the rebuilding of the town.

The county budgeted about $200,000 for courthouse repairs this year, with half the money coming from a preservation grant.

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