YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mahoning County Commissioners took a major step forward Thursday to repair and preserve the historical Mahoning County Courthouse in downtown Youngstown.
The problems at the courthouse have been no secret for years. Pieces of the building’s terracotta façade have been falling away and steel supports on the roof have rusted away to practically nothing. Commissioners agreed Thursday morning to hire the architectural firm MS Consultants to oversee what could be a $6 million restoration project for the 102-year-old building’s exterior.
Although officials have been talking about making repairs for years, lack of money kept the work from ever getting started.
Then in 2010, crews were forced to remove the 2,000-ton copper statues from the pedestal they had stood on for nearly 100 years to keep them from falling off the building. The steel supports holding the statues in place had rusted away to practically nothing.
Since then, water from rain and snow melt is now getting inside and causing even more damage.
“The gutters, years ago, didn’t have stainless steel. They had metal rods, so the rods are rusting. The gutters are spilling water out in a 102-year-old building. It’s causing damage,” said Mahoning County Purchasing Director Jim Fortunato.
“The majority of the money is going for replacing the roof, which is in dire need of replacement, but at the same time the balustrade is coming apart and pieces are falling,” said Norma Stefanik of Mahoning County Courthouse Consultants.
Money to pay for the work will come from a combination of bonds and federal grants, which will require the county to adhere to requirements from the National Register of Historic Places.
The county will pay a little over $500,000 for the architects, which is roughly 8 percent of the overall project costs.
Officials said as soon as this frigid weather breaks, they will conduct a new inspection of the roof and exterior to see where the work needs done the soonest.