Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Gloucester County Works to Preserve Historic Buildings

The old tile flooring has been removed and new flooring will be installed in the colonial courthouse as part of the historic renovations. The exposed fireplace from the colonial era is shown in the back of the room. (Courtesy of Gloucester County)

GLOUCESTER — Gloucester County has announced that it will be using federal grants and Capital Improvement Project funds to work on multiple projects that will preserve historical buildings throughout the court circle.

“The extent of the work will be determined by the additional funds we can raise through grant writing and seeking donations,” Director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Katey Legg said in a news release.

One of the improvement projects that the county will be involved with is removing the 1950s floor tiles inside the colonial court. The county says that this removal process includes asbestos remediation and that is currently in progress.

New Vinyl tile flooring to mimic the original wood flooring in the building and new carpeting around the Board’s dais (platform) will be installed prior to July 5, when the next public meeting is scheduled, according to a Gloucester County news release. Gloucester County Administrator Carol Steele confirmed the original wood flooring in the colonial courthouse, which was constructed in 1766, had been replaced with concrete after a severe termite infestation. 

Mark Wenger, an architectural historian, discusses the condition of the original fireplaces with County staff. (Courtesy of Gloucester County)

Wainscoting in the courthouse was removed to explore the conditions of the original fireplaces in the building. An architectural historian was brought in to examine the fireplaces and a mason specializing in historic rehabilitation will make necessary repairs, the county said.

According to the news release, water damage had been noted which is being remediated. The county plans to leave the fireplaces exposed as long as they are protected.

Another project for the county is the use of federal grant dollars to revitalize the sidewalks for handicapped accessibility and safety. The county announced that additional sidewalks in the court circle will connect buildings to provide more direct access to the structures.

The county also will conduct a conditions assessment of the structures in the court circle and the Botetourt Hotel, a historic building from around the 1770s that houses the Gloucester Museum of History, to determine repair needs and prioritize addressing the highest needs.

“This is a significant investment and import first step as we plan to expand the public’s access to our historic structures and begin to reimagine the Botetourt Hotel and court circle as a multi-building campus,” said Robert Kelly, the County’s Museums Coordinator.

Gloucester County says that the ongoing renovations may cause periodic closures of buildings within the court circle.

For more updates on the renovations, please check out Gloucester County’s Facebook and Twitter pages.


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