East Feliciana Parish Courthouse

Location: Louisiana

Size: 12,000 square feet

John Milner Associates Preservation recently completed the rehabilitation of East Feliciana Parish Courthouse. Built in 1840, this simple, peripteral structure is the oldest still functioning parish courthouse in Louisiana. As part of the first phase of work, JMA Preservation completed a conservation assessment in order to identify factors contributing to the excessive moisture in the exterior walls.

The investigation revealed that impermeable clay soils around the building were contributing to poor site drainage allowing water to perch on the surface and migrate to a large pocket of silty soil beneath the building; but the biggest cause of the excessive rising damp was the installation of a concrete slab on fill at the 1st Floor and the replacement of the original lime plaster with Portland cement plaster on both the exterior and interior sides of the walls. The strategy for mitigating these problems called for 1) installation of an exterior drainage system to keep subsurface moisture away from the building, 2) replacement of the Portland cement plaster on walls with a traditional lime plaster and 3) the removal of a non-historic first floor slab and restoration of the ventilated crawl space and wood floor on wood joists.

JMA Preservation also rehabilitated all the interior finishes based on documented historic colors, oversaw the installation of two new accessible restrooms; minor rearrangement of the courtroom seating to provide compliant exit aisles and a new emergency stairway from the main courtroom, oversaw the installation of all new mechanical, life safety and electrical systems, lighting and state-of-the-art courtroom AVV systems; as well as up-graded the exterior site lighting, sprinkler systems and accessible parking.