Photo by Robert Kerr
Photo by Robert Kerr
Schoharie County Courthouse
Location: Schoharie, New York
National Register of Historic Places
The Schoharie County Courthouse, erected in 1870, underwent numerous renovations over the following century. A major renovation and addition was carried out in 1965. The original exterior walls consisted of thick ashlar limestone construction with tooled stone window trim, decorative cast iron features, a sheet iron tower, and corner pinnacles. While the exterior wall construction was exceptionally well constructed, the wood roof and floor structural elements were typically under-designed, poorly constructed, and often compromised in subsequent renovations. Over time, layers of paneling and dropped ceilings were installed to conceal cracked plaster and deflecting ceilings. Very little of the original period interior remained intact.
MCWB work involved nearly doubling the size of the court facility with a rear addition, while completely renovating the original structure as well. Major structural repairs were carried out including replacement of the entire original wood roof truss system with a new structural steel truss and reinforcement of floors and stairs. Decorative interior features were replicated including tile flooring, decorative painting, custom period light fixtures, and custom patterned carpeting. Nearly all of the interior plaster systems were replaced. The original main wood stairway doors and trim were restored, and new woodwork fabricated to match existing where missing. Throughout the project the State Historic Preservation Office was involved to oversee that the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards were maintained.
The new addition was designed with an exterior limestone to match the original Onondaga limestone, in a simplified contemporary expression. The space between the original structure and the new addition was formed within the 1965 addition to create a modern two-story monumental lobby featuring the original stone exterior wall of the 1870 courthouse (previously plastered over in the 1965 renovation). New courtrooms, chambers, and office facilities are all housed in the addition. The original third floor main courtroom was restored, and a new courtroom was created on the second floor of the historic building incorporating the original Judge’s rostrum.
All new mechanical, electrical, and fire protection systems were provided for both the original courthouse and the addition. The existing attic was insulated and modern systems were hidden into existing masonry shafts; reusing existing historic grates to distribute air.