123-year-old courthouse is getting a new roof

Constructed in 1900, the former Hubbard County courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The historic Hubbard County courthouse is in dire need of a new roof. A $237,329 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society will pay for new shingles, structural bracing, repair of damaged metal gutters and cornices, installation of new downspouts and flashings, removal of loose paint and treatment of rusty areas.
Shannon Geisen/Enterprise

Haataja Contracting, Inc. of Menahga will have the honor of replacing the roof on Hubbard County’s historic courthouse.

Even though it was the higher of two bids, county commissioners awarded it to the local company on Tuesday, March 9. Citing better subcontractor qualifications and local references, the board approved the architect’s recommendation of hiring Haataja.

A historic gem

In March 2022, the county accepted a $237,329 Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant from the Minnesota Historical Society for courthouse restoration. The project includes replacing the roof painting and metal work.

The county is responsible for 10%, or $23,734, in matching funds.

They hired MacDonald & Mack Architects of Minneapolis to take the project through its bidding and construction phases. The architectural firm specializes in historic preservation.


Constructed in 1900, the old courthouse remained county headquarters until about 1975.

It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s official list of properties deemed worthy of preservation. The neoclassical, turn-of-the-century structure was placed in the register in March 1984.

Furthermore, the building was designed by Milton E. Beebe, a famous architect.

The county owns the two-story courthouse and leases it to the Hubbard County Historical Society (HCHS), which in turn subleases space to the Nemeth Art Center. Both are nonprofit organizations.

Comparing competing bids

County Administrator Jeff Cadwell told the county board on Tuesday that the bid opening was held Feb. 21, conducted by MacDonald & Mack Architects.

Equity Builders & Construction of Rosemount offered $198,000, while Haataja Contracting bid $261,000.

In a letter, Rita Goodrich of MacDonald & Mack Architects wrote, “The first bid is under the anticipated bid amount, and the second is higher.” She noted that Equity Builders is a general contractor and Haataja Contracting is a roofing contractor.

“While the majority of the project is roofing, there is a painting component, including the metal roof portion and the metal cornice. The paint specified is a high-performance coating, and there is specified preparation of the surfaces before painting,” Goodrich wrote. “It was noted that only Haataja Contracting included a painting contractor (Alpex Painting), while the other contractor will do the work themselves. It is our opinion that a painting contractor would be better qualified to do the work.”


Cadwell said, “The primary concern they had with the bid submitted by Equity Builders is that they did not specify a painting contractor. As a general contractor, she’s not sure they have the technical experience to treat and paint the metalwork on the top of this building to make sure it lasts as long as this roof does.”

Cadwell continued that Equity did a project for MacDonald & Mack Architects “and the project carried over to a year. The thing that’s not done is the painting, so she expressed a concern about the performance of that bidder.”

Structural bracing must be completed on the courthouse before roof work begins, based on a 2022 structural analysis, Cadwell said, so that drove the overall cost higher.

“The only overage that we expect to see on this is the construction management from MacDonald & Mack, which would probably be around $20,000 to $25,000,” he said.

Cadwell the grant covers $237,329 and roughly $50,000 will be taken from the county’s unallocated capital fund.

The construction schedule has not been finalized, Cadwell said, but it will be this summer.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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