"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena..." -- Theodore Roosevelt
This quote came to mind during a recent tour of the Licking County Courthouse renovation project in Newark. The Licking County Commissioners have boldly undertaken a project to renovate the 19th Century courthouse on the square in downtown Newark. It's an undertaking not made for armchair quarterbacks or sideline critics. It's an all-in endeavor.
This is the 1876 courthouse a few years back.
Ohio's county seats have lost a few of these beauties over the years. Licking County is lucky to still have this 140+ year old iconic building around.
The cupula/clock tower portion of the building looks like it could be stone. It's not. It's a metal frame with sheet metal and ornate sheet metal pieces attached.
The dormer level is also mostly metal, not stone.
Early inspections didn't reveal just how badly the metal had eroded. Besides being coated with lead paint, the cupula was one direct wind hit away from being a disaster. It was a hidden mess.
That beautiful top to the building is not much more than a big old tin can.
And the County Commissioners opted to stop kicking that can down the road.
This is one of the new, metal dormers being installed. Even up close they look like stone. This dormer is being designed with modern technologies and tooled with modern capabilities that will restore it to 1876 and last decades ahead.
County Commissioners Duane Flowers and Tim Bubb led the tour to show off the progress. It gave visual learners like myself a true sense of the scope of the problems. And the solutions.
Local contractor Robertson Construction is leading the team.
From a greater distance than this picture, the public sees the belltower portion encased in scaffolding and draped in plastic. What's inside is a hollowed-out shell being rebuilt.
The tour gave us views that only birds and drones normally get to see.
This crew won't ever forget the tour.
We can't wait to see the final product later this year either.
Some will marvel at the price.
Some will marvel at how much it may look the same when it's done.
Some will marvel about something with some other tinge of negativity attached.
The men in the arena will know what they did was the sort of preventative maintenance that preserved an iconic building for yet-unborn generations.
The critics should just be thankful that their building wasn't built in 1876.