Original Plaster Ceiling in 1889 Courthouse of The Tower Heritage Center
In Categories: , ,

Saving Century-Old Plaster Ceilings of the 1889 Courthouse

We recently had an incident where a portion of the original plaster ceiling of the 1889 Courthouse detached and broke through modern drop ceiling tiles. 

This raised awareness of the fragile condition of our plaster ceilings and led to the launching of this Plaster Stabilization Project. We’re counting on your support to conserve our invaluable history.

This place matters. For over 30 years, the 1889 Courthouse has been home to Washington County’s stories. Its red roof is unmistakable and visible for miles. Preservation of this historic building – as with any – is an ongoing venture. Today, we are faced with conserving our original plaster ceilings. The very same that our community has cherished for generations.

During the renovation of the building in the 1990s, modern updates were installed to transform the space into a museum and archive; one being an HVAC system. The ductwork and subsequent drop ceiling used to cover it was screwed directly to the face of the irreplaceable 1889 plaster ceiling in many of the spaces throughout the building.

Like a rock hitting a windshield on the highway, each screw created a significant impact that caused cracking like rivers and streams on a map, or spider web, causing the historic building material to weaken. 

As time and continued use of the building wore on, the plaster began further destabilizing to the point that in the late summer, a portion of the ceiling detached and broke through the drop ceiling tile.

Destabilized Plaster Ceiling in the 1889 Courthouse of The Tower Heritage Center

This led us to survey all of the plaster behind the drop ceiling, raising awareness of its fragile condition.

What’s a plaster conservation project?

In this project, we’re aiming to save the original plaster. Room-by-room, we’ll be applying specialized techniques to re-adhere the plaster to its framing.

Plaster stabilization process at The Tower Heritage Center in Washington County

This work is estimated to cost $40,000 and our goal is to complete the project by the end of 2023. In order to keep our momentum going, we’re counting on your help to conserve our invaluable history.

Community support allows us to keep Washington County’s stories alive for generations to come. Your involvement in this project means the world to us.

Here’s how you can help ↓

THANK YOU for your appreciation of Washington County’s history. You make our work possible!