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The historic square in Richmond seem to be calling out for help. The most recent cry for attention came from the courthouse.
Yesterday morning, as employees of the courthouse arrived for work they noticed that a piece of one of the northside pillars had broken off and was resting against one of the other pillars.
It turns out that Barbara Nolker of Ray County Farm Bureau had actually noticed the broken section earlier. Nolker was unavailable for comment, however Elizabeth McGraw of the University of Missouri Extension Center, located next door to the Farm Bureau on North Main, said the damage was first noticed “a couple of months ago.” Like other buildings in town, it was thought that the situation was known and repairs were forthcoming.
When Nolker arrived for work Wednesday morning and saw that the piece had shifted to a different position, she notified courthouse employee John Dee Thompson who immediately reported it to the county commissioners.
“Right after it was reported, the commissioners roped the area below it off right away,” said McGraw.
Carmichael’s Service was notified and they dispatched a crane to the scene that afternoon. Kevin Carmichael and Nathan Smith of Smith Masonry were lifted to the site and carefully removed the piece. It was actually a part of the curved portion of the scrollwork that adorns the top of the pillar and estimated to weigh between 150-200 pounds.
“Smith Masonry will put a pin in it and epoxy it back in place,” said County Commissioner Jeff Adams. “There’s a crack in the east pillar that is on the west side of the doors too, and we’ll look at that when we get back up there.”
“A historic restoration grant was applied for last year, and has already been reapplied for this year,” said County Commissioner Allen Dale. “We didn’t get it last year, but hope to get it this year and should know by June.”
Both commissioners agreed that this incident should move the urgency of their grant application to a higher place on the list and will notify the state this morning.
Dale said the grant was for needed masonry work to the exterior of the 1914 courthouse, and to fix some of the lettering on the east side that is flaking. The exterior was waterproofed sometime in the 80s or 90s, according to Dale, but that was the last major project to the outside of the building.
“It’s time for the exterior to be cleaned up again. Water is getting in behind the stone on the east side and causing the lettering to flake. When it was done before, they retooled all of the joints and cleaned it up and it needs to be cleaned up again,” Adams said. “This is a focal point we’ve been working on for the past couple of years. It needs done.”
“We won’t be waiting for the grant to take care of this. We’ll be looking into this and checking the other pillars immediately to insure they’re structurally safe.” Dale said.
Photo: Heads up! A 150-200 pound piece of concrete from a pillar on the north side of the courthouse was removed yesterday when it was reported that a section had broken off and was precariously kept from falling by the pillar next to it. (Photo by Brenda Jensen/The Daily News)