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County replaces historic courthouse windows

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Crews work Wednesday morning to replace aging windows on the third floor and in the dome of the Chaves County Courthouse on North Main Street. The work is the first phase in a larger window replacement project. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Contractors for Chaves County are expected to work for another week on the first phase of replacing 110-year-old historic windows in the downtown courthouse.

Construction crews began to replace the older — and, in some cases, leaking — windows in the third floor and dome about two weeks ago, with the lift being used to reach higher windows seen in recent days.

“So far, all the rains have not been too much of a problem,” said Chaves County Public Services Director Mac Rogers. “The contractors have done a good job of watching out for it and boarding up windows as needed to help protect our building.”

He said the work and the lift should not have any impact on AlienFest activities, those being coordinated by MainStreet Roswell alongside the city-sponsored UFO Festival. AlienFest activities are scheduled to start today and continue until Saturday on the courthouse lawn.

The county has received state funding for the first phase, and the Chaves County Board of Commissioners awarded the $285,277 contract in October to Phoenix Restoration and Construction Ltd. of Texas. The project architect is John Layman of NCA Architects based in Albuquerque.

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Replacement of first-floor and second-floor windows will occur probably in 2022. That project is expected to cost about $1 million, with the county receiving $600,000 in capital outlay funds from the 2021 New Mexico Legislature and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for the work.

“It is difficult to schedule because all of those windows are in the judges’ offices,” he said. “But I think we would be looking to start that in winter 2022.”

Rogers said the basement windows already have been replaced.

The county has been planning for about eight years for the restoration project. The Chaves County Courthouse and the original jail were designated a state historic site in 1984 and a national historic site in 1989, so any work to the building’s historic structures must be done in accordance with New Mexico State Preservation Division standards.

“In dealing with the (Preservation Division), the windows had to meet their architectural standards so they were specially built on the West Coast and shipped to the site,” Rogers said.

He said that the frames were built by Sierra Pacific Windows. The panes themselves are modernized, he said, to meet current energy-efficient codes.

According to documents submitted in 1987 for the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program, the courthouse was built in 1911 for $164,000. A jail that was built as a separate structure but attached by later additions was also part of the historic designations.

The national program approved the historic designation because of the building’s architectural meaning. The documents state that the “1911 Chaves County Courthouse is architecturally significant as a rare example of Georgian Revival (Federal) Style in New Mexico and for its association with architects (Isaac Hamilton) Rapp and (William Morris) Rapp.”

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.