JEFFERSON — Members of the Jackson County Historic Courthouse Restoration Committee donned hard hats and watched earlier this week as a construction crew began the abatement and demolition process at the courthouse.
A single excavator tore down the 1966 addition Monday afternoon while maintaining the structural integrity and exterior facade of the main part of the building.
The committee began the restoration process in 2008 when it assessed the needs of the historic courthouse. With the county commission’s approval, it had an environmental assessment completed and hired Gene Barrington as the architect for the project.
Barrington, who was on site when the demolition began, said there were several reasons why the 1966 addition needed to be removed.
"For one, it has no historical significance," he said. "And the restrooms would have to be torn out because they don’t meet current codes."
The abatement process also started this week, which entails removing hazardous materials from inside the courthouse. Once crews have gone through the interior, they’ll start accepting proposals for restoring the clock tower, roof and window and facade work, Barrington said.
Though the construction crew and the restoration committee have a lot of work ahead, Barrington said the courthouse is in better shape than other buildings he has helped restore.
"The building is in better shape than I anticipated," he said. "When they made buildings back then, they didn’t make them to last 20 or 30 years. They made them to last 130 years or more."
Barrington said the goal is to give the building its historic feel while updating it to current building codes.
"When we’re done, it will look like a 130-year-old building, but it will have running water, heat and air conditioning and handicap accessibility," he said.