Steven L. Abrams
Mary Lou Berger
"An equal opportunity
On May 15, 2007, visitors to the construction site were able to see two additions to the Court House: the original cornerstones on the northwest corner and the reconstructed eagle on the west side over the main entrance.
Marble Cornerstones Mounted on Northwest Corner
On the northwest corner of the Court House there are two marble cornerstones affixed with wires and pins. Each square weighs approximately 400 pounds and measures three feet long by three feet wide and about three inches thick. When the original courthouse building was enclosed by a wraparound facade in 1970, the cornerstones were removed and remounted in the brick stairwell leading to the main lobby. When the wraparound was removed, the cornerstones were saved, and on May 15, 2007 finally installed back in the same exact location they occupied on the original building.
Reconstructed Eagle Perches Atop Main Entrance
Above the west entrance of the Court House sits an eagle crest carved from Indiana limestone. The five-month process of constructing the eagle was challenging as the original carving was lost during construction of the 1970 wraparound facade. Detailed drawings were created based on an archival photograph of the Court House from the 1940s and images of similar eagles from the same time period in North America.
A small clay maquette was made and then a full-sized clay model. A rubber mold was fabricated to create a negative for the plaster mold. Then it took three months for three stone carving experts to recreate the eagle in limestone with a tedious 800-year-old technique used by Italian sculptors such as Michelangelo and Bernini.
Traditional Cut Stone, Ltd., of Ontario, Canada used Indiana limestone to carve the eagle and all the new stone for the restored courthouse. Delivery to the site required 36 tractor-trailer loads of material. The new limestone is from the same quarry that provided the limestone for the original construction. This same limestone was also used to build the Empire State Building. Other projects by the Ontario company include stone carving for the exterior of Graff Diamonds on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach and restoration carving for the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Watch the renovation as it happens on the Web cam.