BROWNSVILLE — The Dancy Building is getting a facelift.
Crews are working to replaced damaged terra cotta over windows, entrances and the decorative molding across the top of the 1912 building, County Administrator David A. Garcia said. It’s the second phase of restoration taking place in partnership with the Texas Historical Commission, he added.
Garcia said when the building was restored, much of the effort focused on the interior. The $12 million project on the Dancy Building was completed in 2006.
Now more than 10 years since its reopening, it’s time to address the exterior before damage gets too far along, he said.
The restoration cost is estimated at just less than $2.5 million, which includes a $450,000 Texas Historical Commission grant, Garcia said. It will be finished mid-2019, and work will be done on one side of the building at a time.
A project that focused on the building’s windows was completed last year to remedy areas where wind-driven rain was seeping in, he said.
Susan Gammage, assistant director of the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, said preserving structures has a personal meaning to her as she grew up visiting her family’s hometown of Cuero and watched historic buildings get torn during the 1970s.
“These are the centerpieces of Texas communities,” she said. “Our goal is not only to restore them to their original appearance but make them safe, functioning buildings so they can continue to be used by the community.”
The secretary of the Interior Department has strongly urged the use of in-kind materials for restorations, Gammage said, to ensure that structures look and feel the same. While that impacts how the materials perform — avoiding the use of wood that expands and contracts differently from wood around it, for example — that can lead to long wait times in some projects, she added.
It can be a challenge to find experts in restoring terra cotta, Gammage said, or a courthouse might have tile from England or marble from India.
“You might wait six months for a tile at times, so it can be a lengthy process,” she said.