WOODSTOCK – A Rockford-based masonry contractor will begin work on the historical Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House when weather allows.
The City Council on Tuesday night approved a bid by Mike Harris Mason Contractor Inc. to move along three first-year repair projects in a five-year plan to restore the dilapidated historical building.
The three repairs, which will cost about $37,000, focus on an eroded portion of the south wall of the Old Courthouse, the parapet on the west wall, and the south wall of the Sheriff’s House.
The city laid out its five-year capital improvement program in September, identifying 14 projects to be completed in the first year. Additional masonry repairs will go through another bidding process, City Planner Nancy Baker said.
Five projects are under way or completed, including plans to rid the building of its bird infestation, repair gaps and holes in the building, remove vegetation outside the building and improve the building’s water service. A historical sheriff’s garage behind the courthouse has been removed.
Extensive repairs are needed before the courthouse will be ready to go on the market, Baker said.
“We’re looking at this as a five-year program,” she said. “I don’t think until year three or four will we be really in a position where we’ve done enough where it would be ready for that.”
Work on the Old Courthouse’s most easily identifiable feature, its dome, likely will begin in the spring. Restoration of the dome is estimated to cost nearly $170,000.
The city will find out this month whether it got a Richard B. Driehaus Courthouse Initiatives Grant from Landmarks Illinois, which would offset the cost of the dome restoration and restoration to the frontm limestone stairs – a $15,000 project.
In all, the city has laid out about $2 million in construction costs in its capital improvement program. An architect’s report recommended that a future private owner invest $2.7 million more for repairs to tcomplete restoration.
Masonry work and window repairs are the two most substantial repairs, financially, that the city included in its plan.
Critical and long-term masonry work is expected to cost about $400,000 over the next four years. Window repairs will approach $500,000 over the next five years, according to the plan.
After initial masonry work by Mike Harris, the city will prioritize projects. In year one, the plan provides for $10,000 in window repairs, which Baker said will go toward small projects to prevent further damage to the building.
“We’ll be re-evaluating every year ... looking at funds and priorities,” Baker said. “Things could change very definitely between now and the next year.”