Numerous timber-made structures of historical significance are still inhabited today in Beaumont. Unfortunately, Beaumont’s location in eastern Texas means that termites of several species are also abundant in the city. Multiple subterranean termite species can be found in the region, including the most economically damaging species, the eastern subterranean termite, and the highly destructive invasive species known as the Formosan subterranean termite. Naturally, the high number of termites in eastern Texas wreak havoc on Beaumont’s many historically significant structures. Several large scale restoration projects have saved many of the town’s buildings from termite destruction over the years. For example, during the spring of 2016, the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont underwent renovations in order to correct extensive damage inflicted by termites. The termite damage even reached the fourth floor of the courthouse, and renovations were not easy due to the unique style of decorative wood found throughout the structure.
The Jefferson County Courthouse was built during the 1930s at a cost of one million dollars. At the time this was a relatively high price for constructing a building, but the building’s majestic black walnut paneling was considered to be worth the high price, even during the depression era. The termite infestation had plagued the courthouse for what must have been decades, as termite damage inflicted to the expensive wood paneling in the commissioners court had been apparent for years to anyone who entered the fourth floor. Heavily damaged veneer, missing panels and deep termite tracks indicated Formosan subterranean termite activity. However, most of the termite damage had been inflicted to the soft longleaf and yellow pine timber-frame below the cosmetic wood paneling. One judge who had worked in the building claimed that he often had to brush sawdust-like wood carvings off his pants on a regular basis for years due to termite workers plowing through the wood above him. Another judge who worked in the building made a similar comment, only he recalled wood shavings landing directly on his head while presiding at his bench. Despite assurances from local pest control professionals that the building had been cleared of all termites, the judges still frequently visited the location during the renovation in order to see for themselves that the termite activity had truly ceased. Local regulations required the renovation company to find wood replacements that matched the original wood as closely as possible. Although this was a tall order, the courthouse was eventually restored to its original state.
Have you ever seen heavy termite damage within a home or building?