Construction begins on new historic courthouse roof
Published 8:00 am Thursday, September 24, 2015
Though cooler weather approaches as the area moves deeper into the fall season, the construction season is far from over outside the capital of Cass County.
Crews began work on the replacement of the county’s vintage courthouse building roof in Cassopolis earlier this week. The project is expected to take place over the next several weeks, with crews removing the old, failing roof tiles and shingles from the former county courthouse, swapping them out with new, sturdy ones.
“You’ll see the roof looking fresher and cleaner,” said Bernie Williamson, the chairperson of the county board of commissioners. “The paint will also be retouched…it will look refreshed, which will be a good thing to see, especially right here in the middle of Cassopolis.”
The replacement of the building’s rooftop finishes one of the top priorities set out from the outset of the nearly two-year-long effort by the county to restore the over century old building, which was closed in 2003 following the opening of the new county courthouse. Williamson and her fellow commissioners voted back in June to approve construction work on the building top, with the project being overseen by Kalamazoo’s Miller-Davis.
The job will be the last major step in the first phase of the restoration work, which is designed to stabilize the courthouse and contain the buildup of mold that has developed inside the structure since being mothballed, Williamson said.
“Once that is complete the building will be watertight and basically stable,” she said. “We could put it on ice if we wanted, but that’s not what we want to do.”
With mold growth contained, Williamson and other members of the vintage courthouse committee will work on developing a plan for how to use the restored building, which will help determine the course of future construction work, she said. The public will be invited to share ideas with the committee throughout the planning process, which will likely begin in winter.
“People should start thinking about what they would want to see in a restored courthouse,” Williamson said. “We’re willing to bring it back, and we’re willing to think outside the box.”
Notices about future meetings about the courthouse will be posted online at the county webpage, http://www.casscountymi.org. Residents can also contact the commissioner in their district with questions and suggestions about the project.