News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 12, 2013

Commissioners making plan to end leaks in Vigo Courthouse dome

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The copper-skinned small and large domes atop the historic 19th Century French neo-baroque style Vigo County Courthouse are leaking and in need of repair.

New copper skin was installed on the domes about 40 years ago and again in 1986. However, a lack of regular maintenance has resulted in water that can be visibly seen coming through the upper part of the dome during moderate rains.

“The longer we wait to repair it, the more damage there will be,” said commissioner Mike Ciolli. “... Water works its way down to the fifth floor of the courthouse from the dome.”

Hail storms create minor dents and pin holes in the metal roofing, and gusting winds can expand broken seams on the domes, Ciolli said. “We can’t stop that. We have had a couple bad storms in the last few years,” he said.

Ciolli on Tuesday told the Vigo County Council that commissioners in May will request that the council approve about $165,000 for a repair project that would re-solder all breaks in roof seams. Any breaks larger than 4 inches in length would be resecured. The dome’s ornamental iron catwalk fence would also be inspected and reanchored as needed and painted.

The project would include a heavy coat of metal primer to close all pinholes in the metal roof, cut out any broken mortar joints and tuck-point with matching mortar color, plus apply water repellent to stone on the dome tower.

“It hasn’t been maintained,” Ciolli said. “What the commissioners have been trying to do over the past two years is preventative maintenance, not do maintenance when you have to because something happened. We can start preventative maintenance and get on a cycle to keep this up, with every two years inspecting it and every four years, it is clear coated. It will last longer,” he said.

In addition, waterproofing would be needed every 10 years. Clear coating would cost $1,200; waterproofing would be $4,000, Ciolli said.

The county completed an 11-year exterior restoration of the courthouse in 1997, which included dome work in 1986. The county completed a four-year, $13.6 million courthouse interior renovation project in 2008.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.