2020 News

Restoring an Old and Cherished Structure to New Glory

Restoring an Old and Cherished Structure to New Glory

On some projects, Baker Group starts with a structure that is very, very old. When completed, the delivered product is something very new, or better phrased, an accurate and restored version of that aged, original, much- prized structure.

That’s the case with a current project: restoring the Webster County Courthouse’s steepled copper clocktower to its historic splendor.

Accurate, historic metal restoration has become a valued art form as much as a coveted trade craft. The Webster County Courthouse, located in Ft. Dodge, Iowa is cited as a historic building, constructed in 1902. It primarily houses local government offices.

“This project combines multiple high-skill talents and practiced techniques that exist at Baker Group but have become rarer in the workforce. We’re excited to do this,” says Jeff Hawkins, Project Manager, sheet metal. Hawkins has been involved in architectural sheet metal work for 35 years, 15 of those at Baker Group. Another Baker Group sheet metal Project Manager, Erik Merrill, is also actively involved.

It is a highly detailed, long-term task that’s keeping them both busy.

Once Baker Group’s bid was accepted in February, the pair was off and running alongside other Iowa businesses, including OPN Architects, Snyder & Associates engineering firm and other well-recognized construction specialists.  Neumann Brothers is the general contractor. “There are a lot of different trades working on this restoration project,” Hawkins adds. The Courthouse is a five-story building, with the tower itself rising an additional 75 feet.

Our professionals note several details of the project require specific skill and attention, which Baker Group brings to the table:

  • New, stamped and shaped copper products – like gutters, finials, fascia, cornices and soffits –are available on global markets, and Baker Group has the right sources. In this case, many products will be ordered from Europe. The crafts people also have experience in restoring as many of these basic components as possible.
  • Copper sheets can be fabricated and stored in our Advanced Manufacturing Facility. An early rough estimate put that material need at more than 20,000 pounds.
  • Baker Group has the technology to provide 3D scans of the building to note shifts in the structure, the siting and in the dome itself that have occurred over time and may occur in this work process.
  • Baker Group utilizes experience and know-how to remove pieces of the existing structure, label them and store them to be used as appropriate. Historic restorations have multiple layers of requirements for materials and salvage.

According to The Messenger Newspaper, the county’s primary newspaper, work commenced in March with project completion eyed by the end of the calendar year. That’s a quick turnaround.

Baker Group has long demonstrated its capabilities in historic restoration, especially with metals. Merrill cites projects such as First United Methodist Church dome, the 801 Grand Building and the Old Main at Grand View University.

Baker group refurbishing projects have included stainless, zinc, brass, galvanized and other prefinished metals such as the copper component of the Webster County project.

“The Webster County Courthouse clocktower structure has been replaced and repaired – more than once – but not in keeping with its historic value,” explains Hawkins. County officials and the contractor wanted to correct that practice this time around.

About Baker Group

Founded in 1963 and with 700 employees across Iowa, Baker Group is the Midwest’s premier full-service specialty contractor providing mechanical, sheet metal, electrical, compressed air, building automation, process automation, security systems, fire alarm systems, parking/revenue controls and 24/7/365 service. For more information, call 855.262.4000 or visit https://www.thebakergroup.com/.


Best of Des Moines 2023

Best of Business Record Award

Baker Group was recognized by readers of the Des Moines Business Record for best Mechanical Contractor, Electrical Contractor, Security Company and Best Company to Work For in 2023.

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Best of Business Record Award

For a seventh consecutive year, Baker Group was recognized by the Des Moines Register as one of the Top Workplaces in the state.