Courthouse restoration slow process

Work is ongoing on the Loudon County Courthouse two years after a fire destroyed the historic building.

Restoration of Loudon County Courthouse has been stalled two years after a fire gutted the historic building.

Crews responded April 23, 2019, to the fire that left little more than a shell.

Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw, Loudon County mayor, said the county has since worked to bring the courthouse “back to her former glory.”

“No doubt that it’s been slower than I would have liked, but at the same time there’s been a lot of moving parts to it,” Bradshaw said. “Everything from, my goodness, we had one of the wettest years in the history of Loudon County as far as the weather goes. There were a few hiccups here and there. The stabilization process took some time. The whole process working it out and getting the people in place as far as our contractors and our architectural firms and everything. Ideally I would have loved to be a little bit further ahead, but at the same time there’s comfort in knowing it’s being done right and done properly.”

Phase one stabilization was completed in February. The county has shifted focus to the second phase.

Brewer Ingram Fuller Architects Inc., recently finished drawings for “Exterior Shell and Masonry Repair,” which is part of phase two, Susan Huskey, county purchasing director, said. Drawings include major structural repairs.

Contractor Johnson & Galyon received the drawings last week and is working on a cost proposal for that portion of the repair. Once that’s done, Huskey said it will be sent to Traveler’s Insurance for approval.

“Once the cost proposal is approved by the insurance company, Johnson & Galyon will begin working on the exterior shell and masonry repairs,” she said. “The architect should currently be working to complete interior drawings and specifications.”

Bradshaw hopes work can begin within a couple weeks.

“The initial drawings that we have right now are the interior, it’s not the moved walls yet,” he said. “Those are not going to be near as hard, but it is to the point that we can go back in and start patching the walls up. We’ve got some brick that have cracked all through the years and, of course, through this whole process I’m sure, and so they’re going to be able to go back in and seal all that back up, make it look solid again. There’s not real fear of it falling, but seal those cracks up and make it look real nice as we move forward getting ready into what walls are going where.

“... We’re going to go with standard walls, brick walls on the inside,” he added. “I think that’s going to look just incredible when it’s done because you’re not going to have the cracks. Those will all be cleaned up and polished. I think the inside is going to look just amazing. They’re finishing up the drawings far as the walls. Steve (Harrelson, county circuit court clerk) and Lisa (Niles, county clerk and master) found a happy medium is my understanding so we’re going to be able to move that out. By the time those plans are ready we’ll be ready to go.”

Recent discussions centered around moving interior walls for more space in the offices of Loudon County Clerk and Master Lisa Niles and Loudon County Circuit Court Clerk Steve Harrelson.

Bradshaw said the insurance company will allow cost-neutral changes inside.

“Myself and Ms. Huskey and maintenance director Brian Brown, we met with insurance representatives, construction representatives and architectural representatives and we stressed to the architectural firm that we’d like to have some urgency I guess picked up a little bit,” Bradshaw said. “And, of course, waiting on these plans here I’m not going to throw stones or anything, our construction crew had to keep busy while we were waiting on the other ones. So they demobilized on site for a little while, we’re aware, and so they’re ready to mobilize again and come back and get started.”