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Courthouse facelift underway

By Staff | Jun 4, 2017

Two sets of workers were busy sandblasting the brick on the courthouse.

Restoration has begun at the Faribault County Courthouse as the expansive summer project is under way.

As the Faribault County Register reported back in February, the Faribault County Courthouse, an icon of Blue Earth’s North Main Street since 1891 and recognized by the National Register of Historic Places since 1977, has not had its exterior professionally cleaned in over 40 years.

But this is no longer the case as boom lifts nuzzled the sides of the southeast tower of the building last week while workers began tuckpointing the Courthouse’s bricks.

Tuckpointing, or the cleaning and repair of joints in between bricks, was the first order of operation once the sun began to shine on Wednesday of last week.

Along the length of the exterior walls along the southeast corner of the building, workers were seen shaving cement away from between the bricks of the Courthouse building in order to later fill the gaps between the brick with new mortar.

A low-strength mortar is likely to be used to repair the exterior joints between the bricks once the tuckpointing process is complete, while a non-acidic cleaning of the structure’s walls is planned to take place afterwards.

The exterior of the building is said to be cleaned cautiously so as to purposely leave patina, or the tarnish caused by age and exposure to the elements the building has accumulated over the 126 years it has been standing in the Faribault County seat of Blue Earth.

Mankato’s I&S Group, whom the county has worked with in past projects, will be giving the outside of the historic venue a deep clean.

Central Services director Dawn Fellows stated once the project is completed, the courthouse may not look too different, but the integrity of the building will be greatly improved.

“This project is really about sustaining the beauty of our courthouse,” said Fellows. “This restoration will add years to the life of our building and will give the opportunity for future generations to enjoy and admire the courthouse for years to come.”

Other points of the restoration project are said to include roof work on the towers, replacement of damaged or missing clay tiles along the exterior of the building, as well as very minor deconstruction and reconstruction of deteriorated brick around the downspouts of the gutters of the building and around the four corners of the towers. The Faribault County Commissioners also approved the replacement of plexiglass windows in the Northeast tower of the courthouse.

The project is expected to progress well throughout the summer and is now scheduled to be a two-year undertaking. Fellows stated the restoration project will progress throughout the summer, and work will continue next summer as well.

Fellows stated entrances into the courthouse will be clearly marked for visitors to be able to gain safe entrance into the building at all times throughout the length of the restoration project.