People who worked on courthouse dome say, Green is good if roof is copper clad

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The green copper dome setting 110 feet atop the Clay County Court House has been removed, refurbished and reinstalled. The 90-100-year-old historic crown finally gave in to the spoils of time and nature. It began leaking and allowed rainwater inside which would have caused considerable interior damage to the court house if not corrected.

The County Council contracted with Pell Roofing & Siding Co. to repair and restore the dome and fix any damage already done to the building. The half million dollar project began in July.

The 18-foot skirt of the dome had to be reinforced with copper and lumber before it could be put back because the original had no support at all resulting in it being squashed down from the weight of snow over the years. It had to be hammered and stretched to get it back to its original shape. Mortar joints, inside and out, were tuckpointed and sealed.

The cupola, the ornate center section, was disassembled and each single piece had to be reworked, resoldered and reassembled.

The 30-inch top piece, the needle, had been missing, so Pell's acquired similar designs and made a new one.

In late October, the refurbished dome parts were hoisted up by crane and nestled securely to the top of the court house.

Brad Pell, co-owner of Pell's Roofing & Siding Co., explained why the dome is green and green is good.

"Copper goes through a natural aging process and it's protective," Brad said. "It starts turning a patina green in about10 years and stops in about 30 years and that's what you want."

Brad explained that the copper for the new needle was chemically aged to match the existing patina green color of the rest of the dome.

When the project was nearly completed, workers built a little copper pocket and soldered it inside the dome for a time capsule. Items were placed inside to tell future generations what Brazil was like in 2004. Included in the capsule were a 2004 copper penny, a copy of the previous day's Brazil Times and various notes from the workers.

Brad's brother, John (Jeep) Pell, said the old dome had lasted nearly 100 years.

"With improved material and construction technology, I'd guess it may be 150 years before repairs are needed again," John said.

Maybe it is easy being green.

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