What's causing the discoloration of the LaPorte County Courthouse?

2013-10-07T18:00:00Z 2013-10-07T21:29:11Z What's causing the discoloration of the LaPorte County Courthouse?Stan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 07, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

LAPORTE | An effort will be made to restore the color of the historic LaPorte County Courthouse, which after a 2007 exterior restoration has been turning from red to white.

The bleaching effect from the solution used to clean the red sandstone exterior in 2007 has noticeably gotten worse in recent years.

Former LaPorte County Commissioner Ken Layton said the white blotches are from chemicals drawing out the natural salts inside the sandstone. there's some evidence the salt has begun eating away at the exterior, he said.

"I'm happy they're going forward with returning the building to its luster. It's one of the most beautiful courthouses in the state," Layton said.

After years of negotiations, the engineering firm that oversaw the 2007 restoration, now called Donaghue/Herceg, of South Bend, has hired a specialist to attempt to restore the color at no cost to the county.

LaPorte County attorney Shaw Friedman said a few tiny spots on the courthouse have already been treated to see if the treatment will work.

He said preliminary results have been outstanding.

Commissioner Dave Decker said a stain will be applied to the entire south side of the courthouse starting in about two weeks.

If the red color holds after the winter, the remainder of the courthouse will be restained.

"We're going to have to see what happens," Decker said.

Part of the hold up in restoring the color was figuring out what type of product could be used to cover the sandstone and prevent the salt from resurfacing.

Decker said a new product developed in Europe that's supposed to reverse the bleaching is going to be used.

"Hopefully, this is going to work," said Decker.

Layton said the bleachng is more than just an aesthetic problem.

He said the salt has begun eating away the brick, leading some people to wonder about the future of the 1894 courthouse if the damage isn't reversed.

"That's been a major fear all along," said Layton, who was commissioner from 2009 to 2012.

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