Webster County Courthouse Update

You may recall that N.W. Overstreet’s 1915 Webster County Courthouse suffered major damage from fire earlier in the year. The Webster Progress-Times is reporting that an engineering report has just been turned in to the board of supervisors:

The fire-damaged courthouse is structurally sound and repairable but more testing is needed to verify the load-carrying capacity of the second-floor structure, according to an engineer’s survey.

Structural engineer Mark Watson of Shannon prepared the “Fire Damage Structural Evaluation,” dated July 6, for the Webster County Board of Supervisors. Board President Pat Cummings distributed copies to fellow supervisors on July 15; no action was taken.

The board contracted with Watson to provide a structural evaluation of the courthouse, and with Belinda Stewart Architects to provide architectural cost estimates to determine the feasibility of restoration of the existing structure. Stewart was to present those estimates to supervisors Wednesday afternoon.

The purpose of the survey was to investigate structural concerns related to the Jan. 17 fire that caused significant damage to the 98-year-old building in Walthall. Watson conducted a visual structural evaluation with minimal destructive testing on the courthouse in late May and early June.

Overstreet’s heavy engineering background is evident in this sentence about the sturdiness of the building:

The courthouse is a two-story structure that used an interior structural steel frame with reinforced concrete floor and load-bearing brick masonry walls constructed with cast-in-place, reinforced, concrete foundation walls.

To read more excerpts from the report, head over to the Progress-Times website.

Categories: Courthouses, Disasters

2 replies

  1. If you want to learn more about the Kahn System that saved the building this is the link to the 1902 patent



    • Interesting that Julius Kahn, the engineer who designed and patented the building’s flooring system, and whose manufacturing company presumably supplied the steel portions of the composite system, was the brother of Albert Kahn, whose eponymous architecture firm was the go-to firm in Detroit for the early automotive industry (among other significant clients). Founded in 1895, the firm lives on today, despite Detroit’s decline, with additional offices in Birmingham and Sao Paulo. Quite a pair of brothers, I’d say, born in Prussia.


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