Lawrence County courthouse roof and masonry project to proceed

Repairing the Lawrence County Courthouse roof and compromised masonry will be an arduous process on the highly historic building and, at an estimated $1.6 million, one that could take up to seven months, or until the end of December, to complete. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — A six- to seven-month project that will shore up the Lawrence County Courthouse roof and compromised masonry will likely ramp up next week, as the Lawrence County Commission awarded the project contract to Texas-based Precision Construction and Roofing for $1,616,552.

“We’ve been working on this project for over a year, from when the commission declared it an emergency, so we were able to waive the bidding process and just get somebody hired,” said Lawrence County Buildings and Grounds Maintenance Supervisor Tim Agena, who worked on the project with Deputy State’s Attorney Bruce Outka. “So, we sourced out two companies, one from Chicago and one from Texas, and also a local masonry company.”

Agena said that after presenting the two proposals to the commission, they chose to go with Precision Construction and Roofing.

“The other company was called Renaissance Roofing out of Chicago and they were considerably higher, so we went with the lowest bidder,” Agena said.

Renaissance Roofing submitted a $2.8 million bid.

The project is highly convoluted and includes the following.

“All of the copper work on the bell tower, the main roof will all be replaced,” Agena said. “And they’re going to redo all of the masonry on the entire building, tuckpointing and any other masonry that needs to be addressed — on the whole building.”

The need for repairs was precipitated by a massive hailstorm Deadwood sustained in 2018.

“The big hail storm that came through damaged the copper roof, to the extent it needed to be replaced,” Agena said. “Upon inspection of the copper roof, they discovered that we had some masonry issues that needed to be addressed. And, actually, that’s where the emergency came from was the masonry. So, we decided to do both projects simultaneously to get them both back up to par.”

Water infiltration led to the masonry being an emergency.

“Some of the blocks and different terra cotta stone had moved, so it was out of place,” Agena said. “Basically, the water infiltration was the primary reason.”

The cost of the masonry to be borne by the county in full, is $493,752, while the roof cost covered by insurance is $1,122,799.

Lawrence County is required to follow the city of Deadwood’s Historic Preservation guidelines in repairing the courthouse building and have been working closely with Deadwood Historic Preservation Officer Kevin Kuchenbecker.

“They’re directing us on how they want it to look when we’re done,” Agena said. “So, it’s going to look pretty much the same as what it is now, other than the copper’s going to be shiny for a few years, until it patinas.”

Agena emphasized the masonry issue resulted from the building’s age.

“It just has to be shored up to make the building safe,” he added. “And the roof was just damaged by that hail. It’s not leaking, so to speak, I mean, we have a couple of really small, minor leaks, but other than that, it’s just something that needs to be done.”

The road to finding a contractor to complete the courthouse project has been a long one, as the skills required to work on a highly historic building are scarce.

“Trying to source out a contractor that could do this type of copper work – and we were referred to these companies by the insurance company, because the insurance company is actually paying for the roof,” Agena said. “We did source out a local masonry company out of Rapid City that’s doing all the masonry.”

So what does this mean for patrons coming in and out of the courthouse?

“The contractors are required to leave access to the building,” Agena said. “The front entrance will be closed until they get the masonry done on the front and they’re going to start on the front. So, hopefully, when they get that done, they’ll be able to open the front access at some point. The access to the building should remain the same as it is now.”

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