Commissioners move forward with courthouse renovation process


By Kasie McCreary - [email protected]



The Scioto County Courthouse’s damaged cornice presents cosmetic issues and safety concerns. The project to repair and replace the damaged sections is just the latest in the Commissioners’ efforts toward restoration and repair of the building.

The Scioto County Courthouse’s damaged cornice presents cosmetic issues and safety concerns. The project to repair and replace the damaged sections is just the latest in the Commissioners’ efforts toward restoration and repair of the building.


Courtesy photo

PORTSMOUTH—Brick by brick, the Scioto County Commissioners are moving forward with renovations and repairs to restore the Scioto County Courthouse.

Commissioners recently approved the County Clerk to advertise for bids from construction and architectural companies to repair damaged sections of the building’s cornice as well as the adjacent drainage system.

Commissioner Bryan Davis noted that the necessity of the repairs reaches far beyond superficial concerns.

“It’s not only a cosmetic issue, but more importantly it’s a safety issue. We’ve had some pieces fall off the building over the years. We go up and do checks to make sure nothing is loose, but it’s getting to the point now where we don’t want to miss anything,” he said.

Davis explained that the remaining sections of the cornice are frequently checked from the ground as well as the building’s roof. Drones have even been implemented to closely examine the structure for any further damage or imminent safety hazards.

Built in 1927, the Scioto County Courthouse features intricate plaster work and other opulent features uncharacteristic of most institutional buildings. It is Davis’ hope that these features can be preserved and honored for the people of Scioto County.

Though Davis said that the Commissioners prefer to utilize local labor whenever possible, the highly specialized nature of the repairs means that they will likely consider bids from other areas as well.

“Part of my concern is finding the contractors,” Davis explained. “Plaster repair is a lost art—you don’t find too many people doing it these days. The cornice project is a great example. The fancy plaster with molding, you don’t find that expertise very much, and in our area, it’s very limited. If you go to bid it out, you’re looking at possibly a contractor from Cincinnati, Lexington, someplace like that. Then you have to bring them here, house them, and all that. So it’s a concern. We have someone doing repair work now; we are going to be bidding out more projects in the future,” he added.

Davis hopes that more bids will provide the project the ability to compare prices from several different construction companies. By advertising bids locally and online, he hopes to reach a large number of specialized experts.

Davis acknowledges that the restoration process has been lengthy, but he ultimately believes that staggering the necessary work will allow the renovations to take place in a cost effective manner. This way, the general fund will not be overburdened as repairs are completed.

“I know some people have engaged in huge courthouse remodel projects and spent millions of dollars one single time. We’ve chosen to take a more tapered approach, bit by bit, to keep our expenses down. As we can afford, we are doing repairs,” Davis said.

In addition to addressing critical structural issues such as the damaged sections of the cornice, the renovations will allow the building to be more accessible to persons with disabilities. Davis indicated that more accessibility measures will be implemented to further ensure ADA compliance.

“We recently redid the handicap ramp, which was critical. We put in a new ramp for accessibility, and door-openers, which make it a lot easier for people to get access into the building. We are doing the same thing across the street at the annex,” Davis added. “We are working on ADA signage [for the elevators], and braille, which a lot of people rely on in this community. A lot of the facilities were built prior to ADA, so we have to always monitor those kind of things.”

Over time, building repairs have included replacing the HVAC system, extensive repairs to damage within the law library, remodeled restrooms, and many other projects. Davis said that he hopes to have the bulk of the building’s repairs completed by 2027, just in time for the courthouse’s centennial.

“We think it’s worthwhile. It’s the people’s house—it isn’t my house. As a taxpayer, I want this to be the most beautiful building in the city. And the courthouse is recognized as the seat of government in every county in America. We should have this building in tip-top condition.”

Davis shared that the restoration project will also help return the building to its original architectural splendor—something which he firmly believes the people of Scioto County deserve.

“At the hundredth anniversary—I plan on being here, I pray that I am—I want to be able to do a nice ceremony where we can reintroduce the people to the people’s house and have it in mint condition,” Davis said. “And we’re getting there.”

The Scioto County Courthouse’s damaged cornice presents cosmetic issues and safety concerns. The project to repair and replace the damaged sections is just the latest in the Commissioners’ efforts toward restoration and repair of the building.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/06/web1_CH1.jpgThe Scioto County Courthouse’s damaged cornice presents cosmetic issues and safety concerns. The project to repair and replace the damaged sections is just the latest in the Commissioners’ efforts toward restoration and repair of the building. Courtesy photo

By Kasie McCreary

[email protected]idwest.com

Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved