Laconia District Courthouse

Client: State of New Hampshire

Architect: Keith P. Hemingway, Architect

Location: Laconia, NH

Completion Date: March 10, 2009

This project included a 4,800 square foot addition and 18,000 square feet of renovations to the existing basement, plus a three-story Laconia District Court. This was the former Laconia High School built in 1886. Many aspects of 1886 construction methods are no longer used today, therefore every component of the building work needed to be thoroughly reviewed prior to taking action. Great care was given to retain the integrity of the existing structure.

The project was bid on May 2007, with all bids exceeding appropriation. Meridian was able to work with the State of NHDOT and its vendors until budget issues were resolved. Construction began in September 2007.

Work included site work, utilities, retaining walls, pavers, landscaping, restoring brick and replacing windows at the exterior of the building, complete gut of the interior, including basement slab demolition and underpinning of the existing footings, extensive shoring of the structure while replacing cracked and burnt wood beams from a reported fire in the 1940’s, structural introduction of new footings below the basement floor to support new columns and beams installed throughout all three floors of the building, as its age was showing signs of structural failure. Also installed were concrete foundations in addition to the exterior of the building as well as two new elevators and a dumbwaiter at the interior of the 1886 construction. Other aspects of major work included structural steel, steel frames, masonry additions, masonry restoration, rough and finish carpentry, new membrane roof, copper and slate work, and new wooden windows historically harmonious.

Other aspects were aluminum storefronts, custom wood doors and frames, hardware, new drywall and plaster work, paint, ceilings, ceramic tile, carpet, security screener, and extensive custom woodwork in courtrooms.

On the interior the original ornate wood trim, chair-rails, wainscoat, and stair parts were carefully removed, stored offsite, and will be reintroduced into the work, as well as new wood pieces made to match the old. Meridian personnel completed shoring, demolition, reframing the floors, walls, and roof structure in January 2008. The building was updated with completely new plumbing, machinery, sprinklers, electronics, and alarm system.

One of a few uncovered conditions was its stone foundation (found to be in poor shape, allowing surface rainwater to penetrate walls and enter the basement). Meridian’s recommendation was to build a one-sided concrete wall around the entire building, drill and anchor ties into the stone, which would improve structural integrity, and create a flat surface for a Tuff N Dry waterproofing membrane and drainboard.

Lastly, one of the most important features of the project was resolving how to bring the sagging floors of 1886 construction up to a 6 inch variation as close to level as possible. Meridian’s carpenters were able to bring the floors back to near the original heights through extensive shoring, jacking, and shimming.