Dodge County Courthouse gets new copper dome

By Elizabeth M. Jones

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

MANTORVILLE — The roof of the Dodge County Courthouse in Mantorville shines like a bright new penny — at least it will until the patina sets in.

The roof is being redone, and part of the upgrade includes putting copper on the roof and dome of the courthouse’s cupola. The work is being done by the Northfield Construction Co., and owner Ray Cox posts regular updates on the company blog.

"Workers removed all the existing roof coverings on the cupola dome. We will be installing new copper roof material on the dome, as well as new support columns and railings around the cupola base. The base will be protected by new copper flashings under the columns," Cox wrote on Oct. 31.


Since then the work has progressed substantially, and shingles have begun going up on both the cupola and the roof of the building.

On Nov. 19, Cox reported: "Our focus this week has been on getting the copper shingles installed on the cupola dome. The old covering was painted and not particularly attractive ... The shingles will not remain shiny copper for long, as we will be treating them with a chemical to tone the shiny appearance down to a soft brown patina."

Cox said that now the county is re-thinking the decision to spray on chemicals for creating a patina. With winter fast approaching, it looks like the roof will be left to develop the brown patina on its own. But don’t hold your breath for the green color so often associated with aged copper.

"It will stay brown for a long, long time," Cox said. "The first stage is going to the brown, and then it goes to the green. It won’t turn green for decades."

Shine isn’t the only reason copper was chosen for the project; the roof will restore the courthouse’s historic appearance.

"I applaud them for doing that," Cox said. He believes the original roof material was a metal covered with a very thin copper plating, which had aged and even been painted over the years.

Besides attending to the roofing, the construction team also repaired the attic structure of the courthouse. "It had sagged quite a bit over the years," Cox said. New insulation was put in the attic, and the team also rebuilt the chimney. The cupola got a complete makeover, with new columns, railings, and of course the pressed-copper roof.

"That should last them decades and decades," Cox said. The project is scheduled to be finished on Dec. 4.


To learn more,go to

Northfield Construction Co. blog on courthouse progress

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