Washington County conducted a competition of sorts to choose a firm to restore ornamental plaster at Washington County Courthouse, and the board of commissioners awarded three contracts Thursday to two firms.
What appears to be gold-colored marble lining the courthouse hallways is actually painted plaster that mimics the veins and variations one would see in metamorphic rock. The technique is known as scagliola.
Three firms responding to the county’s request for proposals performed work on sample spaces separately at the courthouse, which a representative of the firm of Astorino Architecture-Engineering-Design, Pittsburgh, evaluated without knowing which firm had restored each sample, said Gary Bertosh, county director of building and grounds.
Astorino was to determine which sample best exhibited “the right technical approach, careful workmanship and the consciousness of context. It was an opportunity to show us what they could do as far as a restoration was concerned,” said Randy Vankirk, county purchasing director, in an email responding to a question about the project.
Hayles and Howe Inc. of Baltimore, Md., was awarded the contract for scagliola restoration in President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca’s green courtroom, labeled No. 1, the offices of Judge Katherine B. Emery adjacent to Courtroom No. 2, and the court automation office totaling $373,510.
The board awarded a contract to Church Restoration Group of Cranberry Township for additional plaster repairs in the courthouse, including the law library ceiling, totaling $62,238.
The $435,748 worth of repairs will be paid for by taxpayers through an existing county bond issue.
Work will begin within the next 30 days, said Vankirk, who noted that the county was able to negotiate a $30,000 discount with Hayles and Howe.
Scaffolding has been in place in anticipation of the awarding of the contract because of the expense of tearing it down and reconstructing it.
EverGreene Architectural Arts of New York and Chicago, which was in charge of the courthouse dome restoration, and Church Restoration were other bidders for the scagliola project.
“The courthouse is a beautiful county landmark and it is the desire of all to protect that beauty, while seeking to prevent any nonreversible long-term damage that could potentially occur during restoration work,” Vankirk wrote.