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Ben Hill County Courthouse Window Preservation Plan
Proposed Project Summary
For Ben Hill County Board of Commissioners
The historic wooden windows on the 2nd story of the courthouse are in need of repair. As we have
already ordered vinyl replacement windows, the new vinyl windows should be installed temporarily.
The existing wood windows should be removed and crated until preservation funds are obtained.
The existing wood transoms should remain in place.
The historic metal windows downstairs are in good shape and should be preserved as part of the historic
character of the building. Theses windows should be scraped, primed, sealed, and painted to ensure a
weather-tight seal. These metal windows should serve for another 100 years with very little
Suggested Plan of Work
Phase 1 – Begin July 2015
1. Purchase Materials already made from Drawdy Roofing & terminate contract – Estimated Cost
2. Take bids for the removal of the historic wooden windows and re-installation of the new vinyl
windows for the second story of the courthouse according to historic preservation guidelines–
3. Hire a contractor/subcontractor to remove the all 2nd story wooden window sashes and install
the vinyl replacement windows with oversight from our local Historic Preservation Commission
– Estimated Cost $8,600.00
4. Crate and Store historic sashes for later Repair/Preservation once funding is obtained –
Estimated Cost $1,500
5. Strip, Prime, Seal, and Paint 1st Story Metal Windows – Estimated Cost $6,000
Phase 1 Estimated Total Cost - $36,000.00
Previously approved amount to spend $48,490.00
The above plan of work has been approved by the local Historic Preservation Commission and is part of
a plan that follows the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for the preservation of places on the
National Historic Registry. Completion of the work in Phase 1 will secure the windows of the
courthouse, and allow ample time to seek funding for future preservation work.
The balance of the funds approved for the window project could be used to address the badly leaking
Window Preservation Plan for the Ben Hill County Courthouse
Prepared by: John William Mooney
To: Fitzgerald Historic Preservation Commission & Ben Hill County Commission
Objective: To outline a practical window preservation plan for the Ben Hill County Courthouse with
consideration for budget, historic preservation, and materials on hand.
History: The Ben Hill County Courthouse, completed in 1909, is listed will all other Georgia courthouses
on the National Register of Historic Places. The Courthouse features long lasting and low maintenance
galvanized metal for the majority of the exterior trim including the brick molding, crown molding, fascia,
etc. All of the original 1st floor window assemblies are built of the same galvanized metal. The 2nd story
window assemblies and transoms are wooden. All of the windows are simple 1 over 1 configurations
excepting a handful of windows that appear to have been divided for security purposes.
Present Condition Summary: Despite significant renovations and additions over the years, the majority
of the original windows sashes and transoms remain in place. The metal window assemblies on the 1st
floor of the building are structurally sound, but are in need of paint and sealant. The wood window
assemblies on the 2nd floor of the building vary in condition. Many of the exposed windows on the north
and east sides of the 2nd floor are failing. Almost all of the bottom sashes in exposed locations on the
second floor show some degree of rot and decay. Overall, the top sashes and those windows in covered
locations are in better shape. Many of the wood windows have been improperly repaired. However,
most, if not all, of the windows on the 1st and 2nd floor are in good enough shape to repair. Virtually
none of the windows require total replacement.
Project Status Summary: Ben Hill County has approved a $48,490.00 window replacement project.
Originally that project was intended to replace all of the windows and transoms with almond colored
vinyl double hung replacement windows. The project was intended to secure all of the windows and
add to the thermal performance of the building. The project has been temporarily placed on hold for
further evaluation. Before work was stopped a significant number of custom windows were
manufactured for the project. The total cost of those materials to date is $19,625.30. It is my
understanding that all of the windows and transoms for the 2nd floor of the courthouse are included the
materials already made.
Historic Preservation Considerations: As this building is arguably our most historically and culturally
significant community landmark, proper historic preservation practices should be followed. The
Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Preservation were established to provide a set of standards by
which places listed on the National Register should be preserved and maintained. Preservation Brief #9
deals with the preservation of wood windows. Preservation Brief #33 deals with the preservation of
stained glass. Preservation Brief #13 deals with the preservation of metal windows.
The guidelines and best practices direct that original materials be preserved whenever possible and that
any replacement materials should be of similar make and design so that the historic appearance and
design of the window is maintained. Clearly in following with the guidelines established by the
Secretary of the Interior for maintaining places listed on the National Register, vinyl windows are not
Budget and Scope Considerations: Typical historic window preservation projects estimates range in cost
from $800 to $1,200 per wood window assembly. Factors such as condition, complexity, and
accessibility influence the cost. There are approximately 46 wood windows on the second floor which
require some degree of reconstruction. As these windows are simple 1 over 1, and many of the covered
windows are in good shape, an average cost of $800 each is reasonable. Thus a 2nd story historic
window preservation project could cost about $36,800.00. The 19 transoms could cost anywhere from
$15,000 to $25,000 due to the added complexity and unknown condition and origin of the stained glass.
As the metal windows on the 1st floor are in good repair, a simple 1st floor window “paint and seal”
project could cost less than $6000.00.
Given the present budget of $48,490.00 minus the $19,625.30 that has already been spent, there is only
$28,864.70 remaining. Thus full preservation of the wood windows is not feasible at this time.
It is worth mentioning that the typical historic window preservation project happens in three stages.
First the historic sashes are removed along with the necessary trim and hardware and a temporary
closure is installed in the opening. Second, the sashes are stripped, repaired, reglazed, and repainted
offsite while the necessary reproduction trim is made. Third the sashes are re-installed in their original
openings and fitted with hardware and trim as needed and a final coat of paint is applied.
Recommendation: Form a project partnership with the local Historic Preservation Commission. Begin a
historic window preservation project with 3 phases.
Phase 1 – Weatherproofing - Estimated total cost $33,000.00
1. Removal of all of the historic wood window sashes
a. Each wood window sash on the second floor should be photographed and labeled. Each
sash should be carefully removed and crated. Hardware and sash pulleys should
labeled, removed, and stored with each sash. All trim should be salvaged.
2. Installation of temporary closures
a. Since vinyl windows have already been purchased, these windows should be installed as
temporary closures while the historic sashes repaired.
b. Care should be taken so as not to make any permanent alterations to the window
3. Painting and Weather Sealing of the Metal Windows
a. The first floor metal windows should remain in place. Scraping, priming, and sealing,
and painting these windows is recommended to achieve a weather tight seal.
4. Historic Stained Glass Transoms that are not failing should remain in place, failing transoms
should be replaced temporarily with vinyl replacement transoms
5. Additive Alternate 1: Windows for openings 1-11 and 57-63 repaired according to the
specifications below and made ready for Re-Installation. Repaired sashes should be crated until
Phase 2. – Estimated Additional Cost $15,000
Phase 2 – Historic Window Repair and Re-installation – Estimated Cost $30,000.00
1. Repair wood sashes and Reinstallation of wood windows per Preservation Brief #9 and
specifications below. (Deduct approx. $15,000 if Alt 1 chosen in Phase 1)
Phase 2 Alternate – Historic Transom Preservation – Estimated Costs $15,000 - $25,000
1. Removal Repair and Reinstallation of Historic Stained Glass Transoms
a. Openings to be temporarily filled with vinyl replacement transoms
Optional Phase 3 – Storm Window Installation – Estimated Cost – Up to $21,000.00
1. If protection and thermal considerations warrant, storm windows could be added to select
windows. Care should be taken so that the visual appearance of the building is unchanged.
Funding for Future Projects
There is limited funding available for courthouse preservation projects. Two options are most likely for
One is the Historic Preservation Fund grant program. This program would require that we
partner with a Certified Local Government (the City of Fitzgerald) to apply. We would also need
to update our historic resources survey, which was last completed in 1981. These grants
generally range from $20,000 to $23,000 and are for “brick and mortar” projects.
The other is the Georgia Heritage Grant program. This program is funded by “Preserve Georgia”
vehicle tags and is not awarded every year. $10,000 was awarded last year to the Stewart
County Historical Commission for a historic jail window preservation project.
There are certain things we can do to make ourselves more competitive in the grant arena. One is to
adopt a preservation oriented project plan. Another is to include the Historic Commission in the
fundraising and grant application process.
2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10
14 15 16 17
19 20 21
Each number represents an opening Sashes will be labled as with “T” for top
and “B” for bottom. Transoms will be labed “trans” Multiple sashes will be
labled as “left” “middle” and “right” . All labels are as viewed from exterior.
22 23 24
31 32 33 34 35
38 39 40 41 42 43 44
45 46 47
48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56
57 58 59 60 61 62 63
64 65 66 67 68 69
Almost all windows are 1 over 1
configuration. Openings 6, 42, and 60 are
triple windows with transoms: 3 bottom
sashes, 3 top sashes, and 3 transoms each.
Openings 59, and 60 are double windows
with transoms: 2 bottom sashes, 2 top
sashes, and 2 transoms each. Openings 24,
26, 34, 53, 66, and 67 have doubles windows
with 2 bottom and 2 top sashes. Opening 69
has been closed. There are approximately
166 sashes and 19 transoms total. All of the
original 1st story windows are galvanized
metal sashes that match the original exterior
galvanized trim. Approximately 68 of the
sashes are metal and the remaining 98 are
Detailed Window Condition Report
On 7/15/2015 I did a brief walkthrough of the courthouse to get an overview of the current
window condition. I did not look closely at every window, but I feel I have a basic grasp of the
general condition of the windows as a whole.
1st Story – Most if not all of the windows on the 1st story of the building appear to be hollow
galvanized metal windows. It appears that the majority of the exterior trim, crown, fascia, brick
molding, etc. on the building is also matching galvanized metal. With no evidence to the
contrary, I am assuming that these windows are original. All of the metal windows that I saw
appeared to be in relatively good shape. Some of the exterior beige paint on the windows was
peeling. There was some evidence of past water infiltration around some of the windows, but
the source was not apparent.
2nd Story – All of the windows that I examined on the 2nd story were wood windows. It appears
that over the years, many repairs have been made to the bottom sashes. Many of the bottom
rails on the bottom sashes have varying degrees of deterioration and some of the lower ends of
the stiles also show signs of decay. The top sashes seemed as a whole to be in relatively good
repair. Many of the bottom sashes have been modified to receive various repairs. The windows
under covered sections of the building seemed to be in relatively good shape, while the exposed
windows on the north and east sides of the building seemed to be in the worst condition.
Approximately 50% of the original hardware seems to be in place.
2nd Story Transoms – From floor level, it appeared that the transoms were in good physical
condition. This is to be expected as 12 of the 19 transoms are under covered sections of the
building and do not receive direct weather. However, the glass in the transoms has been
painted with latex paint. One transom remains unpainted and the yellow textured glass is
visible. The same texture is visible on the remaining painted transoms, so it is assumed that the
glass there is yellow as well.
It seems that the original design of the building included metal sashes and jambs for the 1st floor
and wood sashes and jambs for the 2nd story. Based on this assumption, it seems the majority of
the original historic windows remain in place. The metal windows on the 1st floor are in good
repair. The wooden sashes on the 2nd story are in fair to poor condition. At present a few 2nd
story windows are failing, but it is likely that many more windows could fail within the next few
years if not rehabilitated.
Custom almond colored vinyl replacement windows have been ordered for the courthouse. It is
my understanding that all of the vinyl double-hung replacement windows and transoms for the
2nd story of the courthouse have been made and are available for pickup. The cost to date of
the materials is $19,625.30. Ben Hill County has previously approved $48,490.00 for the
window replacement project. This figure included materials and labor to replace the existing
windows with vinyl double hung replacement windows, but did not include the cost to repaint
any of the window trim.
It is worth noting that the 2nd floor windows could be temporarily replaced without permanent
damage the historic character of the building. However, replacement of the 1st floor metal
windows would certainly cause irreparable damage making future preservation impossible.
Also, a busy court schedule does not allow for prolonged construction work. Access to the 2nd
story is generally limited to one week durations many weeks or months apart.
1. Secure the failing and exposed windows on the 2nd story.
2. Secure the covered windows on the 2nd story.
3. Paint and seal the 1st floor metal windows.
4. Paint and seal the exterior window trim on all 2nd Story windows
5. Restore the painted transoms.
6. Install storm windows.
Possible Project Work Segments and Costs
Weatherproofing – Estimated total Cost $32,825.30
1. Failing and Exposed Sash Removal and Temporary Window Installation – Estimated Cost
a. The first work item should be to secure and rehab the exposed and failing windows on
the 2nd story of the courthouse. Generally this is done by removing the inside and
middle stop along with both sashes and then installing a temporary panel in the
opening. In this case, we have already purchased vinyl replacement windows, which will
serve practically as a temporary window while the historic sashes are rehabilitated.
Care should be taken to minimize damage to the trim and hardware. All materials
should be labeled to their location and crated for storage and transport. There are
approximately 33 windows that are exposed and/or failing on the 2nd story.
2. Covered Sash and Transom Removal and Temporary Window Installation – Estimated Cost
a. There are approximately 14 covered windows and 19 total transoms (covered and
uncovered). Most of these appear to be in relatively good shape but it would be cost
effective to add these windows into any rehabilitation effort. To rehab these windows
and transoms, they should be removed along with the sashes in item one and
rehabilitated off site. While the windows are awaiting rehab, the openings should be
temporarily filled with vinyl replacement windows
3. Repaint and Seal the Historic Metal windows – Estimated Cost $5100
a. Scrape, prime, caulk, and paint the historic metal windows. As these windows are in
relatively good shape, a weather tight seal should be easily attained by using sealant
and paint. A proper sealant, primer, and paint will be determined.
2nd Story Historic Window Sash Preservation and Re-Installation – Estimated Cost - $30,000.00
1. Rehab all historic wooden window sashes
a. Assumed that all sashes have already been labeled and removed and that ample
time is provided for repair and reconstruction.
b. Sashes to be rebuilt using guidelines from Preservation Brief #9. Replacement wood
and components to be Sapele Mahogany or equivalent. Replacement hardware to
be solid brass or similar to original hardware. Modern double strength glass is
acceptable. Glazing should be Sarco Dual Glaze, but for budgetary reason, DAP
glazing is included in this proposal.
c. Sashes are to be reinstalled in their original locations using original or reproduction
trim. Top sashes may be fixed with Sapele mahogany blocks. Bottom sashes should
d. All trim should be reinstalled when possible. Replacement trim should be fabricated
from reclaimed heart pine or equivalent. Trim should match the original.
e. Historically correct windows and trim should be made for all openings, even if the
current use prohibits installation. Those windows should be labeled and stored for
future installation when feasible.
Transom Preservation – Estimated Costs $15,000 - $25,000
1. Further evaluation is needed to determine the best course of action, but this proposal
assumes that the stained glass transoms will be removed for rehabilitation and temporarily
replaced with vinyl replacement transoms. It is possible that the best course of action is to
rehab the transoms in place or some combination of both approached.
Storm Window Installation – Estimated Cost - $21,000.00
1. Beige Storm windows could be installed to add thermal efficiency and protect the historic
windows. Care should be taken so that the storm windows have a minimal visual impact.
The addition of storm windows should not significantly alter the appearance of the windows
and building in general.
a. Storm window installation on all exposed wooden 2nd story windows. Estimated
b. Storm window installation on all covered wooden 2nd story windows and Transoms.
Estimated Cost $7,000.00
c. Storm window installation on all 1st story metal windows. Estimated Costs
i. Wood blocking for attachment of the new storm windows should be
installed butted to the existing metal brick mold on the exterior of the metal
windows. This blocking should be attached in a manner that does not cause
penetrations into the brick or metal window trim. Anchoring the wood
blocking into the mortar joints with appropriate anchors is likely the best
way to secure the wood blocking. Care should be taken not to cause
permanent damage to any of the window components.
2. Interior Storm windows could be considered as an alternative for thermal efficiency without
exterior visual impact. However, this would not yield protection to the exterior weather
side of the windows.
Preservation: places a high premium on the retention of all historic fabric through conservation, maintenance, and repair. It respects a building’s continuum
over time, and through successive occupancies, and the respectful changes and alterations that are made.
Rehabilitation: emphasizes the retention and repair of historic materials, but more latitude is provided for replacement because it is assumed the property is
more deteriorated prior to work.
Restoration: focuses on the retention of materials from the most significant time in a property’s history, while permitting the removal of materials from other