$1.5 million Douglas County Courthouse waterproofing project set to begin first phase on Tuesday

photo by: Journal-World

The west side of the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., is pictured on Sept. 23, 2021.

A $1.5 million project to waterproof the foundation of the Douglas County Courthouse in downtown Lawrence is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

The county announced three phases for the upcoming construction at the courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., in a news release Friday. The first phase beginning Tuesday will affect the one-hour parking lot just south of the courthouse, with the lot set to be closed through mid-October.

Phase two will see the project move to the west side of the building, with some construction also taking place on the north and south ends. That phase will last from mid-October to the end of 2023. The final phase will take place on the east side of the building, again with some construction also taking place to the north and south. Construction should wrap up by the end of March 2024, according to the release.

“It is anticipated that there will be noise during all phases of this project, especially during phases two and three,” Buildings and Grounds Director Jimmy Wilkins said in the release. “We apologize for the inconvenience this will cause for the public and our employees and ask for their patience as we make these much-needed repairs to the courthouse.”

The building’s sidewalks and entrances will be open and available throughout the project, and the county says all of the services available through the courthouse — including the Register of Deeds Office and Treasurer’s Office — will remain accessible.

As the Journal-World reported, county leaders unanimously approved moving forward with the project about a year ago, and it was included in last year’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan.

According to the county, waterproofing stone foundations wasn’t a common practice when the building was first constructed more than a century ago in 1904, and the building has endured “significant water infiltration through the exterior foundation walls” as a result. The county says the project will correct the wall permeability issues and prevent any further stone foundation deterioration, all while improving conditions inside the courthouse’s basement level.


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