Clock tower a major project

Published 10:36 am Monday, July 3, 2017

When the band aids don’t fix it, a major procedure is the only answer. Such is the situation with the clock/bell tower of our Clark County Courthouse.

The current building is the fourth Courthouse on the court square and was completed in 1855 at a cost of $40,000, it has been referred to as one of the most beautiful in the Blue Grass. Substantial alterations to the stairs and vault were made to in 1887/88 at a cost of $22,000.

Just one year later the courtroom moved upstairs and the original three tiered gold domed clock tower was replaced with a two tiered one. It was 18 feet taller, enabling persons from the south to see it as the view had become obstructed with the construction of the Citizens Bank. Winchester architect E. N Lamm designed the new tower.

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In 1940 a rear (west) addition to the Courthouse was completed. It was an identical match to the original front and funded in part by the Works Progress Administration. The County’s portion of the twenty office addition was $50,000. The latest addition (on the south side) was completed in 1980 at a cost of $375,000 and made the building handicap accessible.

It was during the 1980 project that problems with the clock tower were discovered. By 1984 additional repairs were necessary and a copper roof was installed on the dome. These band aids cost $22,200 and lasted until 2001 when the court awarded another contract in the amount of $47,000 for more band aids to the clock tower and dome area.

When the current Fiscal Court took office we were made aware of the deteriorated wood framing problems and leaking conditions of the tower. The band aids have not fixed the problems and the structure of the tower has become rotten and structurally weak to the point where the tower is actually leaning. There is no alternative but to address these issues immediately with complete replacement of the tower.

The architect has been retained and the construction documents are nearing completion. The plans call for an exact replica that is maintenance free, yet supported by an interior steel support system.

While the final cost can only be determined through a public bidding process, it will no doubt be very expensive. Hoping for the best but planning for the worst, court is exploring all financial/payment options for the project.

The public can rest assured the court will act in the best interest of the community. I think it is a fair statement that, “ We all want to have a county Courthouse that will be beautiful, functional and sound, one with a clock/bell tower.”

Robert Blanton

Clark County Magistrate