2022 News

Restoring Glory to the Webster County Courthouse

Restoring Glory to the Webster County Courthouse

For more than a century, the Webster County Courthouse has stood watch over downtown Fort Dodge. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981, the four-story building features a stunning stone façade and an iconic clock tower that includes ornate copper work.

In recent years, county staff and outside engineers uncovered several structural issues that required significant work. Among the jobs was addressing deficiencies — and more than a few cosmetic issues — in the architectural sheet metal work on the clock tower. Baker Group secured the bid to complete the clocktower work.

Jeff Hawkins served as the project manager and says Baker Group’s architectural sheet metal expertise, including work with copper like that used on the clocktower, made his team perfect for the job. While the project was complex, the “we can do that” approach common at Baker Group took over.

“We have several team members who have 30 or more years of experience working with materials like copper,” Hawkins says of his team of around a half dozen who worked on site and another handful who fabricated pieces in the shop in Ankeny. “That’s where our confidence level with this project came in. It was a challenging project, but for those of us who had an opportunity to work on it, it was fun.”

While there was some structural work required, much of the job was cosmetic. Work on the clocktower started in January 2020 and wrapped in August 2021. Hawkins says it is one of several architectural sheet metal projects his team has completed in recent years, joining other landmarks like the Greenfield Opera House, First United Methodist Church in Des Moines and more.

“It required a lot of care because there were pieces that if they had been destroyed couldn’t have been recreated,” Hawkins says. “Much of the original work was done in the 1800s. Many of the materials and techniques aren’t used much in the United States anymore.”

Specifically, Baker Group restored several historical copper decorative pieces on the clocktower. These pieces were removed, carefully stored and repaired for future reinstallation. During this process, Baker Group fabricated to the original design with new pieces to blend in with the historical pieces.

In addition, the Baker Group team repaired the decorative gutter fascia and restored copper crestings from previous modifications to the original detail. Baker Group also fabricated and installed decorative corner pieces, flat lock panel roofs, valley flashings, hips and ridges, and radius cornice.

“There were two main challenges we faced,” Hawkins says. “The first was properly restoring the historical integrity of the building without damaging any of the original pieces. We were able to do that with careful planning and focused approach to the work.

“We were also challenged by taking the historical copper and matching it to the newer copper,” he continues. Baker Group employed a high-tech solution to address the issue. “We were able to scan the structure, overlay a new structure drawing and create a new solution to the missing gaps within the structure.”

Hawkins says looking up at the newly refurbished clocktower — and knowing the role his team played in making it happen — brings an immense sense of pride.

“Any project of that scope feels good,” he says. “It is nice to know that people are able to see our work. There are a lot of projects that I have had the good fortune to work on around this area and I really do enjoy being able to point up and say, ‘Hey I did that.’”

Hawkins and his team worked on the plan and spec job with architect OPN Architects, engineer Snyder & Associates and general contractor Neumann Brothers.

Learn more about Baker Group architectural sheet metal capabilities.

About Baker Group

Baker Group is a commercial and industrial specialty contractor based in Ankeny, Iowa. With more than 1,000 employees, Baker Group is the Midwest’s premier full-service specialty contractor providing mechanical, industrial, sheet metal, electrical, 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 www.thebakergroup.com.


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