The Wharton County Courthouse, a state historical site, needs work on exterior doors and windows, as well as down spouts, washing and painting. Bids will be considered by commissioners during Monday’s session.

The county budgeted $50,000 for this work and an additional $50,000 for cleaning the stone on the historic building, which was rededicated by the Texas Historical Commission in 2007 after four years of restoration work.

“It may be more advantageous to power wash first because the work may end up knocking off some of the paint, or may help us discover there is wood that needs replacing,” County Judge Phillip Spenrath said. “More than likely the power washing will happen first.”

These projects would not begin until 2022.

Before the county can move forward with the physical work, the THC requires a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL) permit. That is in the process of being done, County Maintenance Department Consultant Paul Shannon said along with city permits.

Courthouse bids were opened in County Auditor Barbara Starling’s office Thursday and will be awarded Monday.


State protects courthouses

In 2007, Wharton County was one of 39 Texas counties with fully restored courthouses. There are 125 others on the way to being fully or partially restored.

In 1973, the state legislature passed a law that no county could demolish or radically change a courthouse without involving the THC. 

“A lot of these contractors don’t like to start big jobs during the holiday season,” Shannon said. “It won’t affect holiday (activities) or the parade.”

Anytime one does work on the structures designated as historical by THC, a SAL permit is required. The THC board meets four times a year, permits are considered at these session.

If the historic courthouse’s windows were to be glazed, Shannon said, the glass on the wood would have to be specially cured.

The Wharton County Courthouse was constructed in 1889. It’s restoration phase included the demolition of the 1940s additions that had surrounded the building and resulted in a fully restored exterior complete with replicated pressed metal shingle roof and clock tower.

“Pressure washing can’t be over 400 psi for limestone,” Shannon said. “There are hoops the THC makes you jump through to make sure we don’t damage the building the state gave Wharton County money for.”

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