Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Courthouse's Interior Next Restoration Project

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Courthouse's Interior Next Restoration Project

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, County Line staff writer

The third and final phase of restoration work on Clay County's historic courthouse on Walnut Street in Green Cove Springs will focus on the interior of the 19th-century, two-story structure.

The County Commission awarded the design contract Tuesday to Bhide & Hall Architects of Orange Park -- the same company that supervised the renovation and restoration of the stucco-over-brick building's exterior during the past two years.

The project carries an estimated price tag of $700,000: $350,000 in county funds matched with a $350,000 state grant. Completion is forecast by June 2004.

Wendell Hall, one of the partners in the firm, urged commissioners to stick with Bhide & Hall because the local company was more familiar with the late 1800s courthouse than any competing architectural firm.

Commissioners agreed it made sense not to switch architects at this late date.

"I'm sure all the firms are well-qualified," said Commissioner Patrick McGovern, "but Bhide & Hall has kept the thing from falling down . . ."

Restoration work on the old courthouse, located across the street from Clay County School District headquarters, began in 1998 with a $123,500 state grant. Hall said Phase I was pretty much limited to "stopping the building from collapsing."

Phase II entailed repairing eroded portions of the exterior, applying new stucco over old red brick, repairing a metal cornice near the roof, repairing or replacing numerous windows and painting the entire structure.

In preparation for Phase III, workers removed rotten wood and tagged and stored wood that will be refinished and reinstalled in the restoration work over the next 16 months or so. Much of the wood was removed from the upstairs courtroom.

Phase II also will include replacing all the electrical wiring, plumbing, interior walls and ceilings, and installing a modern convenience that was not in the original structure: an elevator. …

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