Members past and present of the Mount Pulaski Courthouse Foundation

Mount Pulaski Courthouse Foundation fully funds roof project

Send a link to a friend  Share

[May 14, 2016]  MOUNT PULASKI - On Thursday evening, Tom Martin of the Mount Pulaski Courthouse Foundation shared with a group of supporters gathered around the steps of the courthouse that the foundation would be delivering a check to the State of Illinois on Friday.

The check written for just over $169,000 was the full amount needed to remove and replace the roof of the historic building. There would also be work done on the crossbeams above the second story ceiling.

Because of the repair work to the crossbeams the courthouse will be closed to the public for approximately one month, with work starting this coming Monday. When the crossbeam work is done, the courthouse’s ground floor will be re-opened to the public, while the balance of the roofing project is completed.

Martin addressed the group, saying it was hard to know where to start in speaking about this project. He noted that everyone present had played a big role in accomplishing this.

He said it had been a community project, but not just a community project. He noted that donations to the Foundation had come from areas throughout the state of Illinois, the entire United States, and even from around the world. He noted the tremendous efforts made by students at the Mount Pulaski Grade School, as well as efforts by students at the high school.

He said it had been a five year project and was still ongoing. All together right now, the Foundation has raised just over $400,000 to support the courthouse. Martin said that $50,000 had been spent on small projects around the courthouse and grounds. That money included replacing windows, doing repairs on the courthouse steps, and several other small projects.

Martin said the roof would be the first big project to sustain the building for the next 100 years. He noted that the roof on the building now was put on in 1936, so it has served the courthouse well for the last 80 years.

Martin said that on Friday, he and Renee Martin would deliver a check to the state in the amount of $169,828. He told those present, “We’re going to be very tight with that money, and we have complete approval on any additions. We will watch that money like it is our own because it is our own.”

Martin also said that when the check is handed over to the state, he will also advise state authorities that the next project for the courthouse will be to address the exterior paint issues.

Last year, Martin shared the story about the paint on the exterior of the building. He said that in an effort to maintain the building, the exterior had been painted. Though it was a very well-intentioned endeavor, an error was made in the type of paint that was applied to the brick structure. The paint used was not suitable for the brick surface and as a result, it caused serious moisture issues inside the building. He had at that same time talked about the impact this had on the interior of the building, causing condensation in the walls and ceilings that resulted in peeling paint and enormous cracks in the ceilings. At that original account of the problem, Martin said the solution would have to be to remove the paint from the building, and re-paint it with a product suitable for masonry.

Martin said this week, the plan would be to resolve the paint issue and thus the moisture issue. Once that is completed, the next step in the restoration of the building will be to repair the plaster inside the building and paint.

Martin said he wanted to acknowledge a few people in particular. He asked that the former site superintendent Wally Kautz and the current superintendent Barbara Stroud-Borth join him at the steps of the courthouse. He noted that in 2011 it was Kautz, Stroud-Borth and himself, who met across the street at the café’ and said, “What are we going to do?” He said the plan built from there. He added, “I am very appreciative of their guidance, and all the work they have done to support the courthouse.”

[to top of second column]

He then asked Doug Thompson to join him, with the super-sized version of the check that will be given to the state. Martin explained that the amount of money required had changed at the last minute, so the check didn’t have quite the right dollar amount written in, but it was representative of what will be paid to the state.

He said that the days to completion of the entire project was 180 days. He said while the interior work for the crossbeams in the attic is being done, the courthouse will be closed to the public. He said the estimate is for one month, but he hopes it will be less. Once that work is completed, the ground floor will re-open. He noted that the sides of the courthouse lawn will be closed to the public for safety purposes, but the front walkway will be opened and maintained in a safe manner.

Martin also shared that the Foundation had presented quite a dilemma for the state. He said when the Foundation approached the state and said it was willing to fund the entire project, it presented the state with a puzzle. Martin said state officials said that they had in the past had communities give a donation to a state-funded project, but “we have never had a community say, we’ll fund the entire project. We don’t know how to handle that.” Martin said that made him very proud of his community, and again grateful.

Also on hand was the architect for the project, Dave Leonatti of Melotte, Morse, Leonatti, Parker, Ltd. of Springfield. Martin said, “Dave has been a great influence, a positive influence, always saying ‘we’re going to get it done.’ Dave is as excited as anyone to get to this point.”

Before the official announcement, Stroud-Borth explained part of the process involved with doing work on a state historic site. She said that the items that were upstairs had to be inventoried and moved, with a record of where each piece was stored. She said some of the larger pieces of furniture would remain upstairs but would be moved to the side of the room and protected. She also noted that the second story flooring, which is original to the building has been covered to protect it from falling debris during the restoration work.

The Mount Pulaski Courthouse is a State of Illinois Historic Site under the oversight of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Throughout the years, the state has struggled to support its historic sights and the Mount Pulaski community has stepped up to the plate on several occasions to help keep the courthouse open and available to the public. On Thursday evening, Martin said that the Foundation appreciated what the state and the IHPA have done to support the courthouse and that they have been good to work with on this project.

The Mount Pulaski Courthouse Foundation was formed in 2011. In January of 2015, the Foundation introduced the “Abe’s Million” fundraising project with the goal of raising $1 million for the restoration and upkeep of the courthouse. That fundraiser is still ongoing. Anyone who wishes to support the fundraiser may donate online by visiting the Foundation website and clicking on “Donate” at the top of the page on the far right side. The Foundation is a 501(c)3 Not-for-profit and donations may be tax deductible.

Mount Pulaski Courthouse Foundation

[Nila Smith]

Back to top