Courthouse porch restoration to begin

PARKERSBURG – Restoration work on the porches that used to grace the front of the Wood County Courthouse is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

The bid for the work was awarded last week to David’s Stone LLC, based in Marietta, Ohio, for $33,711.47. Stone was the firm that also did the restoration work on the new steps at the courthouse. Keystone Waterproof Inc. of Greensburg, Pa., was the only other bidder for the porches, with a quote of $35,400.

“We are delighted to be working in our own backyard again. All the workers that will be used on the job are West Virginia masons. Our children and grandchildren will see the work we do for years to come, and we want to make sure it’s done right,” said David Paige, owner and general manager of the firm.

“We will be using handcarved limestone, the same Indiana limestone that was used in the Empire State Building and the same stone used on the courthouse steps, to restore the porches to their natural condition. This stone will be stronger so it should last longer,” Paige said.

County administrator Marty Seufer said a contract with the firm is pending.

Paige said he anticipates finalizing a contract with the county within the next week or so. He’s hoping to have the job completed in time for July 4 holiday celebrations.

“We may need to close the front entrance to the building for a time as a safety precaution,” Seufer said.

Paige said he plans to use a manlift and not have scaffolding to try and reduce disruption to traffic around the building.

“We will go up with the railing, carrying them up piece by piece,” Paige said.

The porches on the fountain side of the historic courthouse are outside the third floor offices of the building. The original porches had apparently become deteriorated and were removed during 1983-1984 renovation efforts.

“We look at safety first, doing it right and doing no harm to the building. It’s a beautiful building and we love restoring buildings like that,” Paige said.

Paige said there will be a stone rail on the top and bottom and balusters in-between.

“The stone will be all handcarved. It’s very traditional process, dating back to the middle ages. The original was not rounded, it was also handcarved so it didn’t have any straight edges. It’s a real artisan’s job, and we have a great carver we work with near Sandusky, Ohio, who will do the job. He’s a fifth generation stonecutter,” Paige said.

The county received a $28,400 West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement grant for the porch project.

The courthouse was completed in 1899 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The courthouse took nearly two years to complete at a cost of $100,000.

Paige’s firm was the successful bidder for the earlier renovation of the courthouse steps. The county was awarded a $62,400 West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority for that project.