Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Renovated Courthouse Has Water Damage

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Renovated Courthouse Has Water Damage

Article excerpt

Byline: AMELIA A. HART, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

Two years after Nassau County spent $5 million to restore the Historic Nassau County Courthouse in Fernandina Beach to its former glory, the building's courtroom has water damage.

Water has puckered and stained the plaster on the courtroom's west wall, as well as staining the wall's wainscoting. One historic portrait on the wall also has been damaged and subsequently removed.

Damage from the leak, which was first noticed in March, has members of the Nassau County Historic Courthouse Trust concerned that the county might be letting the courthouse slide, once again, into disrepair.

"It's terrible to see this happen," longtime Fernandina Beach resident Celeste Kavanaugh said. Kavanaugh was a member of the so-called "kitchen coalition," which fought for more than five years to save the historic building as a functioning courthouse rather than a museum.

Nassau County maintenance personnel said they moved as quickly as they could to find and repair the leak in the roof that caused the damage. They also say they're trying, but are having difficulty, reaching the Jacksonville construction company that restored the building to make the needed repairs to the wall.

Members of the trust shared their concerns about maintenance of the courthouse with members of other historical advocacy groups during a meeting in the courthouse Nov. 12.

The trust was created in January 2003 by many of the same people who served on a committee that was formed by county commissioners to oversee the reopening of the courthouse.

The courthouse, which first opened in 1892, has been called one of the finest examples of Victorian courthouse architecture in the state. It reopened for use in June 2002 after a $5 million overhaul paid for by grants and 1-cent sales tax revenues.

Trust members say their primary purpose is to make sure that courthouse remains a functioning courthouse and that the building never falls into disrepair again. …

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