TEXARKANA, Ark. — Miller County has received a $500,000 historical preservation grant to restore the roof of the county courthouse.
Miller County Judge Cathy Hardin Harrison said they will receive $192,232 this year for Phase 1 of the project, which includes the third floor roof. Grant funds for Phase 2 will be $157,976 and be used to repair the roof on the first floor. The $130,001 for Phase 3 will be used for the roof on the fifth floor, which used to be the old county jail and is now used for storage, the judge said. The courthouse, at 400 Laurel St., was built in 1939.
The roof was last replaced around 2001 following a hailstorm and the last restoration was done about four years ago, Harrison said, when some of the window frames were restored for historical accuracy.
"We're really happy to get the grant to repair the courthouse," she said. "Most of the issues are leaks in the third floor section. There are parts of it we can't use because the ceiling has fallen in and there are several areas that are leaking." She added that the county would bid out the work and that it would begin as soon as possible.
Manhattan Construction Company built the courthouse, which is made of granite and limestone and it was designed by Architect E.C. Sibert. According to a plaque in the courthouse lobby, Milton Oats was the county judge at the time and the building committee consisted of F.E. Wilson, Robert Maxwell and George Brown.
Harrison said many people in the county have talked about tearing down the courthouse and building a new one, but that to do so would be a tragedy because it is a work of art.
"The wainscoting marble has fossils in it, which is unique and rare," she said. "There are other beautiful architectural details in this building, including the crown molding and there is absolutely no way we could afford to replace it. It's a beautiful building. It just needs some TLC."
The building's distinct details on the limestone, granite and terrazzo tile are included in the preservation plan the county submitted to the state to get the grant.
Harrison said that once the roofs are completed, additional work will be done on the grouting between the stones on the outside of the building.
"We are looking forward to getting this done and applying for the next grant," she said.