With completion anticipated in August, an extensive renovation of the Fulton County Courthouse is about 90% finished and scheduled for a fall debut.
Remaining major projects include carpeting the staircase, painting, and adding touch-ups, according to Commissioner Jon Rupp. New furniture will arrive over the next couple of weeks, and the parking lot has been repaved.
The approximately 10-month, $3.86 million renovation included upgrades by Mosser Construction of Maumee to the Clerk of Courts offices and the Probation, and Juvenile courts and their offices, and an American Disabilities Act-compliant elevator. The courthouse has remained closed during renovations, and the courtrooms and offices temporarily relocated.
The project also included major preservation work in the historical Common Pleas Court by John Canning and Co. of Cheshire, Conn. Among the restored items in the courtroom were 14 paintings, 10 murals, and four “tondos” – circular paintings.
“Each of these paintings were painstakingly evaluated in order to identify the best solution for cleaning, restoring, and preserving these paintings,” said Toni Schindler, marketing and communications director for the Fulton County Commissioners. Restoration was also completed on original furniture, woodwork, stained glass windows, and a skylight.
Canning and Co. also devised a color scheme reminiscent of that from the original 1870s courtroom, Schindler said. Stadium seating that once filled the courtroom has been recreated, and new lighting and acoustical and other technology has been added.
“Visitors are going to notice cosmetic updates throughout the main courthouse on the first floor,” Schindler said. “It is very warm and welcoming, and some of the office spaces have been reconfigured. But the Common Pleas courtroom will be the most striking part of the courthouse to visitors. It’s truly breathtaking.”
The cost of the $122,080 courtroom restoration was covered through capital improvement funds, special accounts, and separate grants for technology from the Ohio Supreme Court.
Built by architects Alexander Voss and H.B. Bensman in 1872 for $44,350 – approximately $931,142 in today’s money – the Fulton County Courthouse underwent exterior renovations in the 1990s, and changes to restrooms, offices and courtrooms in the 2000s. Exterior brick work, painting, and repair of the courthouse clock were completed in 2014 at a total cost of just under $93,000.
Rupp said the current work has progressed with no major delays. An open house for the public will likely be scheduled in the fall.
The commissioner said the renovation was under consideration as early as 2017, when an obsolete law library was removed from the Common Pleas courtroom. He said the project left questions about how to fill that open space, and lead to conversations about upgrading the courthouse heating and cooling systems, security and technology, and fire system, among other improvements.
Rupp said the possibility of a secured courthouse entrance is still under discussion.
“I can honestly say that I am proud that we have chosen to follow in the footsteps of the commissioners before us in preserving and maintaining our historic courthouse,” he said. “Our goal is to make it more efficient, comfortable, safe, and accessible to the public while still maintaining its historic value. Our hope is that it will continue to serve us for many centuries to come.“