Two historic buildings in Accomac have been inspected and found to be in need of repair. The county solicited the services of Greg Jacobs of Landmark Preservation, LLC to inspect the Debtors Prison and the Accomack County Courthouse and report his findings.
Jacobs said that the Debtors prison has water problems. He said that several factors including cracks in the area around the south chimney, some problems with the slate roof, masonry cracks, poor soil grading at the foundation, chimney caps in poor condition all has resulted in water leaking in the building and overall deterioration. Jacobs said that this was caused by substandard maintenance practices over many years. He said that some of the problems were caused by accepted construction practices which have in recent years been found to lead to problems like those currently present.
Jacobs estimated the costs of repairing the Debtors prison to be $202,745 to restore it as a museum quality building.
While water is also a problem across the street at the Accomack County Circuit Courthouse, Jacobs said that the two buildings are very different. While the Debtor’s Prison is a museum, the courthouse, while being an historic structure, is a working, breathing building which, with proper repair and maintenance can continue to serve Accomack County for many more years.
Jacobs said that the immediate concern at the Courthouse was some electrical problems that needed addressing. He said those repairs may have already been made. Also the building needs a new asphalt shingle roof, re-flashing, repairs to built in gutters and down spouts, drainage problems around the south portico, problems of drainage in the bell tower along with framing in both the bell tower and the main roof, painting of the decorative metal cornice, and several other items including the painting and repair of windows and doors.
The total estimate for the complete repair and restoration of the courthouse is $973,340.
The good news is that Accomack County already has in reserve $700,000 set aside for the needed repairs to both buildings. When asked by Supervisor Wolf if there were grants available, Jacobs said that there are some state dollars but the process is very competitive and many applications go unfunded. He said that all of the grants require at least 50% funding in advance by the county.
During the comments period, Supervisor Robert Crockett thanked the county administration for its foresight in setting the funds aside.
Jacobs said that the restoration of historic buildings should be left to contractors who are qualified and experienced. He warned the Supervisors that in cases like this it doesn’t pay to use the contractor with the lowest bid. He said that while you save dollars at the outset, most of the time improperly completed repairs cause more costly issues down the road.