Delaware County opened the doors of its new downtown Delaware courthouse earlier this week, about two years after workers began prepping the site.

County officials conducted a flag-raising ceremony the morning of Nov. 6 at the five-story structure, which sits just south of the county's Hayes Administration Building between North Sandusky and North Union streets.

"It's something we can all be very proud of," Delaware County Commissioner Gary Merrell said. "It's something that's going to be here for many, many years. It's going to be a monument that we can all look to with a great deal of pride and dignity."

Merrell said the $39 million project "could not have happened without the cooperation of the city of Delaware."

Delaware City Council in 2014 voted 6-1 to allow the county to demolish a late-1800s structure known as the Elks building at 110 N. Sandusky St. to make way for the courthouse. The vote reversed a decision by the city's Historic Preservation Commission to deny the county's request.

Council decided to override the panel after county officials discussed the possibility of moving courthouse operations outside city limits if the demolition was not allowed.

The county finally razed the structure in November 2015.

The new structure is home to the county's clerk of courts, court of commons pleas and probation services, among others.

County spokeswoman Jane Hawes said large windows on the east side of the building give visitors "the best view in Delaware." She said officials wanted a lot of natural light to help provide a sense of calm in a building that often serves as the setting for emotional scenes.

Hawes said the courthouse also offers enhanced privacy and security to visitors compared with its historic predecessor on the opposite side of Sandusky Street.

The historic courthouse at 91 N. Sandusky St. will sit vacant until workers revamp it to serve as offices for the Delaware County board of commissioners, the Delaware County Veterans Service Commission and the county's economic development and human resources departments.

Jon Melvin, the county's facilities director, said the county is accepting proposals from architectural firms hoping to work on the project. He said the historic courthouse likely will reopen in early 2019.

Six county-owned properties will be sold as the county consolidates operations at the two courthouse buildings and the Delaware Area Career Center's north campus in Brown Township, which the county agreed to purchase earlier this year.

Melvin said the county does not expect to take possession of the DACC property until at least midway through 2019.

Hawes said county employees who work in the new courthouse have been "giddy" since they began moving into the structure.

"Last week I could see a lot of people were just so excited and so happy," she said.

The county has scheduled an open house for the public from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 3 at the building.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@twgallick