Two decades after exterior renovations to the Bartholomew County Courthouse were last completed, another is likely to take place in 2017.

Significant erosion to the limestone foundation and brickwork below vents on the lower part of the clock tower must be addressed quickly, county maintenance director Rick Trimpe recently told the Bartholomew County commissioners.

While the work isn’t likely to disrupt the courts and other county offices in the 142-year-old  building, cost to the cash-strapped county could soar in excess of $1 million, Trimpe said.

Alerted to the problem about a month ago, commissioner Larry Kleinhenz used a pair of binoculars to examine damage to the clock tower.

“There’s some serious erosion going on,” he said.

If damage to the historic building isn’t taken care of, the erosion will get progressively worse – and more expensive to correct, Trimpe said.

Without quick attention, moisture caught in cracks of the stone will begin seeping into the interior, dissolving mortar joints and popping the faces off the brick, he said.

“We need to get on this and get it fixed,” Trimpe said.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.