Photo by Sue WatsonCraig Bjorgum takes photographs as Ashtyn Krusee looks over areas that need repair. Both are with Belinda Stewart Architects. Accompanying Krusee in the bucket is Torris Brown with the Holly Springs Utility Department.
Architects survey courthouse roof
Craig Bjorgum and Ashtyn Krusee, both with Belinda Stewart Architects, took a good look at the roof, eaves, and attics at the Marshall County Courthouse December 12.
The courthouse roof has been leaking for over a year and rain water has begun to leak down into the second floor courtroom, and in the first floor chancery clerk’s offices. Plastic drapes and buckets have been spread over a dozen rows in the courtroom to catch the water and funnel it into pails.
Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas has been concerned about the roof repair for some time because of the deteriorating effects of water and also the risk to paper files.
“It’s been leaking for a long time,” Thomas said. “I feel bad for the judges to have to hold court with it dripping.”
Architects entered the attic crawl space above the third floor to see what cannot be seen from the bucket lift.
“We’re at the point now, it’s got to be fixed,” Thomas said.
“It’s not going to be an easy fix,” said Mark Miller, deputy chancery clerk. “There are a lot of angles (under the roof).”
Thomas said he thinks the roof has been replaced once. While inspecting the underside of the roof, Miller said the architects were looking in the cornices for records or documents that could have been hidden there during times of war.
The center section of the courthouse was built in the 1830s, and the east and west wings were built later.
A few years ago, Thomas had the carpet taken up and the floors sealed.
“We believe these floors are original to this building,” Thomas said.”That’s the reason we took such painstaking efforts to get them redone.”
Meanwhile, further down the center hall to the east where filing cabinets line the wall, the floor near the stairs to the courtroom has sunk from two to three inches.
“You know water is the worst thing that can happen to any structure,” said Miller as he attempted to measure the distance the floor has sunk near the kitchen.
County administrator Larry Hall said the floor has been sinking since he’s been working for the county. That is due not to water but to infrastructure supports below the floor, he said.
Bjorgum, technical director/project architect with Belinda Stewart, said his firm is preparing construction drawings and specifications to move the project to the next phase, which would be bidding the project out to a contractor who will do the work.
“We’re just going full-speed ahead,” he said. “We know the urgency of it. We got a lot of information when we were there. We spent a lot of time in the attic and the courtroom. It was a great trip.
“We are trying to identify how it’s laid out so we don’t end up with any surprises that could result in additional costs. It was upfront investigative work. We will try to mitigate (budget) changes later.”
He said the information will help update the budget and itemize a cost estimate to complete the work of replacing the courthouse roof.
Marshall County was named after U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall. Holly Springs was incorporated in 1836, the first framed courthouse building built in 1838. It was set afire and burned during the Civil War, and was rebuilt in 1872, according to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and other sources.
The east and west wings were added sometime around 1925. The clock tower and Greek revival architecture is a classic style of courthouse design in the state of Mississippi.
Some remodeling took place in 1968.
There was a fence surrounding the courthouse which was moved and portions of it used to enclose Burton Place in 1935. Prior to the castiron fencing, wooden rail fences surrounded the courthouse so that farmers could park their horses and wagons.
For a more complete history, obtain a copy of “Mississippi Courthouses Then and Now” by Bill Gurney, Old Timer Press, Itawamba County Times, printers, 106 West Main Street, Fulton, Miss., 38843.