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Loose marble on courthouse prompts more testing

Evan Howell (center), of Blue Ridge Marble & Granite Company, hands down a marble slab freshly removed from the top left corner of the main face of the Pickens County Courthouse. Courthouse construction Project Manager Thurman Slone stands at right.

 

Testing resumed Monday morning to judge how tightly the marble face of the courthouse adheres after workers discovered last week that some marble near the roof edge came off too easily. Evan Howell and Terry Long, of Nelson's Blue Ridge Marble & Granite Company, went aloft two stories on a scissors lift around 9 a.m. as county workers watched from the courthouse lawn.

Howell and Long were up the courthouse face to pick down another piece of marble facing from the highest run at the wall's upper left edge. Last week, after a similar piece was found to be too easily loosened, yellow barrier tape went up on the terrace below. Monday's work was apparently to see how many other pieces of courthouse facing might be loosely in place. The marble facing dates from mid 20th century.

 

"Some of it was a little bit loose at the top, and we're checking to see how well it's anchored," said courthouse construction Project Manager Thurman Slone. "The top parts up there were a little bit loose because the roof has been repaired several times, and water had gotten behind it."

“We know we're gonna have to clean it off,”  Slone said of the marble face work. “We wanta make sure it's gonna stay there when we do.” Work on the courthouse, expected by next spring, is slated to include demolition of the brick wing at the back of the building, an activity subject to transmit vibration throughout the whole structure.

Besides Howell, another marble man was scheduled to examine the condition of the marble facing. "We're having a contractor from Crystal Marble [of Cumming, Georgia] come and take a look at it," Slone said.

Pickens County's unique marble courthouse is not built of marble blocks but is faced with marble slabs of what appear to be about three-inch thickness. These are held to the building by what looks like mortar.

After Howell and Long descended with the slab they removed Monday, Slone talked with Howell about what was found. Slone was less than forthcoming in sharing information discovered during the test. Barring a Progress reporter outside barrier tape, Slone sat inside the construction zone un-hard-hatted and out of earshot from the press as Howell gave his description of what he found that morning.

Findings are preliminary, Slone indicated, asking for some time before results are made public.

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