Montrose, COLO.— The Montrose Board of County Commissioners are taking a hard look at the historic Montrose County Courthouse and what it would take to continue to occupy the building. On June 19, the commissioners voted to award a contract to F&D International, LLC., for design, architectural, and engineering services to determine the feasibility of renovating the historic courthouse. The total amount for the contract is $620,375, of which up to $200,000 will be reimbursed through a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).
“For decades, the building has been in need of major work. The top two floors have been unoccupied for 20 years. Band-Aid after Band-Aid has been applied to keep the building minimally functional. Like anything else, you can only patch something so many times until it is just worn out. So now, 100 years after the county undertook the original design and construction of the building, that is the position that we find ourselves in,” said Deputy County Manager Jon Waschbusch, who secured the DOLA grant and is coordinating the project. “We’re beyond being able to patch a single item any more . . . if we’re going to fix all these things, we need to empty the building; and if we’re going to take the trouble of emptying the building, we need to fix it right.”
“The courthouse has been neglected for too long,” said Commissioner Roger Rash. “It is a source of pride for Montrose and I think we—as a county—owe it to the citizens that hauled, cut, and installed local sandstone, brick, and timber to determine whether we can protect the facility’s integrity for another 100 years.”
The courthouse was originally constructed in 1922 of local sandstone and brick. It was designed by renowned architect William Norman Bowman. Currently, the historic courthouse is home to the treasurer, clerk and recorder, assessor, and geographic information system staff. These employees work in challenging conditions as a result of the condition of the building. Hundreds of members of the public access that building five days a week, and the need for an upgraded elevator and major roof repairs is urgent. Temporary fixes have been used to keep the building minimally functional, but the board of county commissioners decided that it was time to look at long-term preservation options.
“That building is the cornerstone of downtown Montrose,” said Commissioner Keith Caddy. “Now we have the opportunity to put that building back to the way it should be—to the grand old building that it is.”
The project is already underway and is expected to be completed by December 31, 2019. Once the county receives the final products of the bid—scope of services, construction drawings, and an engineer’s estimate of probable cost—the commissioners will make a determination on future plans for the historic courthouse.
Courtesy Photo Attached, Montrose County Courthouse by LuAnne Tyrell