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HOT SPRINGS -- A piece of the terra cotta eaves at the Garland County Courthouse recently fell through the ceiling of the county clerk's office, something the county hopes doesn't foretell a more pervasive problem with the historic structure.

The Garland County Quorum Court last week authorized County Judge Rick Davis to issue a request for qualifications to architects interested in developing a needs study for the courthouse exterior. Davis told justices of the peace that water infiltration likely dislodged the terra cotta, which fell through the ceiling of what used to be the county jail but is now part of the clerk's office.

He said a larger piece also came loose but was removed before it fell.

"We've got issues with the outside of the courthouse separating and falling off," Davis said. "Some of it's water damage. The problem with spending the money to repair that little piece of the roof is, do we have additional problems that we need to address? The next one might not fall on [the clerk's office]. It might fall on somebody on the sidewalk."

Davis said the overhang keeps rainwater away from windows, but it is mostly cosmetic. It was not included in the roof overhaul the courthouse underwent a few years ago.

Last week's authorization allows the county to apply for an Arkansas Historic Preservation Program grant to fix the overhang.

Davis said water continues to get inside a courtroom on the third floor despite its exterior being resealed several years ago. He said that without a comprehensive plan, the county cannot deal proactively with the underlying causes of the water infiltration.

The courthouse was built in 1906 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Its interior was rebuilt after it was damaged in a 1913 fire.

Metro on 12/21/2017

Print Headline: JPs authorize study on aging courthouse

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