Modoc County courthouse

Renovation work on the historic Modoc County courthouse includes exterior painting, rehabilitating worn concrete, replacing steps, floors and fencing, installing a new heating pipe system, replacing a boiler and repairing the classic dome.

ALTURAS — Exterior renovation work on Modoc County’s historic courthouse, which celebrates its centennial later this year, is nearly complete.

Now the challenge is finding another $41,000-plus to pay underfunded costs. Chester Robertson, Modoc County’s chief administrative officer, said he is contacting nonprofit foundations to try to raise the funds.

Repairing age damage

“It was crumbling, falling apart,” Robertson said of the landmark courthouse in downtown Alturas. “We are trying to stop the deterioration in its tracks.”

He said no general fund money is being used for the work, which has included exterior painting, rehabilitating worn concrete, replacing steps, floors and fencing, installing a new heating pipe system, replacing a boiler and repairing the classic dome, which is now painted copper. Work on the current renovation, which focuses on repairing the courthouse’s exterior, began last April.

Elevator installation

Next up is installing an elevator, which will make the courthouse ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant and provide access to second floor offices, courtrooms and the supervisors meeting room to handicapped people. Because it is not ADA compliant, supervisors meetings have been at other locations including, for the past year, at the Alturas City Hall meeting room. As part of installing the elevator, other alterations needed to meet ADA requirements will be done.

Cost for the elevator unit is $82,470 while the construction cost for its installation and other improvements is $214,024. Installation is expected to begin this month and be completed by late March.

“There’s still quite a bit to be done, and it all depends on funding,” said Stephanie Wellemeyer, Modoc County’s auditor/recorder/clerk.

She said the courthouse area has improved outdoor landscaping, with plans calling for planting lilacs and boxwood trees by the main entrance, adding an automatic sprinkler system and installing a fountain.

We’re trying to get as much done as we can,” Wellemeyer said.

Anniversary

Although the actual centennial is May 6, Wellemeyer and Robertson said a formal celebration will be on a to-be-announced date this summer, partly to complete ongoing projects and partly in hopes of sunny, warmer weather.

Robertson said the event also will celebrate the courthouse’s architect, Frederic DeLongchamps, who also served as Nevada’s only state architect. The Neoclassical architecture is symmetrically arranged. The reinforced concrete exterior has been stuccoed and scored to imitate stone masonry. The interior is decorated with marble and brass.

According to Robertson, “There’s an established fan base” for DeLongchamps, which should draw people to the centennial celebration.

Robertson said no general fund money is being used for the elevator or the other current phase of courthouse work. Most of the cost, more than $200,000 is from California Proposition 40 parks and recreation funds, with a lesser amount from court fines earmarked for maintaining facilities.