Cascade County Courthouse

Renewing a historic gem

Cascade County Courthouse

ARCHITECTURE   |   Historic Preservation

For well over a century, the Cascade County Courthouse has provided a significant cultural presence within the historical context of Great Falls, Montana. Originally constructed in 1903, the three-story, English Renaissance Revival structure required a multi-million-dollar roof replacement, including the reparation of its historic copper dome. The complex endeavor required extensive collaboration between city officials, multiple roofing contractors, and the design team to identify solutions for unexpected issues discovered within the historic structure, in addition to a thorough review process with the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission and the Montana State Historic Preservation Officer. All design and construction efforts preserved the building’s authentic, historic character while implementing additional techniques to fortify the copper roof and dome for another 100 years.

Cascade County Courthouse

Renewing a historic gem

ARCHITECTURE
Historic Preservation

For well over a century, the Cascade County Courthouse has provided a significant cultural presence within the historical context of Great Falls, Montana. Originally constructed in 1903, the three-story, English Renaissance Revival structure required a multi-million-dollar roof replacement, including the reparation of its historic copper dome. The complex endeavor required extensive collaboration between city officials, multiple roofing contractors, and the design team to identify solutions for unexpected issues discovered within the historic structure, in addition to a thorough review process with the Historic Preservation Advisory Commission and the Montana State Historic Preservation Officer. All design and construction efforts preserved the building’s authentic, historic character while implementing additional techniques to fortify the copper roof and dome for another 100 years.

Breathing new life into old materials

The project utilized recycled materials locally sourced from the Great Falls area, and in turn, all copper removed from the previous roof was recycled and repurposed into new copper for future use. In addition to fulfilling sustainability goals, all materials used were equivalent in quality to what was replaced.

Breathing new life into old materials

The project utilized recycled materials locally sourced from the Great Falls area, and in turn, all copper removed from the previous roof was recycled and repurposed into new copper for future use. In addition to fulfilling sustainability goals, all materials used were equivalent in quality to what was replaced.

Restoring authentic grandeur

Repairing the historic roof and dome required numerous preservation treatments to restore the ornate copper metalwork and various decorative elements which had become weather-worn and tarnished over time. Perched on a limestone rotunda, the dome’s weight had caused the ornamental columns underneath to separate from the structure, requiring significant structural repair. Metal rods were inserted within the decorative copper rails to provide additional support, then lifted by crane and gently guided into place atop the new roof.

Preserving the past, anticipating the future

While the project preserved the structure’s historic character, form, and finish, modern improvements were incorporated to ensure the structure will continue to serve the community for another century and beyond. Select building components were modified to manage water and ice damming to prevent future leakage, while the batten seam copper roofing is 25% thicker than the original material to provide more efficient life cycle cost.

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