High on one wall of the courtroom in the historic Delaware County Courthouse is a mural showing Ohio's great seal, beneath an eagle and flanked by U.S. flags, painted before the building was completed in November 1869.
Hidden behind drywall for decades, the mural has been uncovered by renovation work that began last year and is expected to be finished in June.
The courthouse renovation is one of two extensive county projects in the works for 2020.
The county purchased the former Delaware Area Career Center North Campus on state Route 521 for $1.77 million in 2017, and this year will launch a project to convert the 63.6-acre site into the Byxbe Campus, a centralized location for a number of county departments.
County administrator Michael Frommer said all floors of the historic courthouse are being renovated, and the 1869 mural will remain on permanent display.
Once finished, the courthouse will hold the county commissioners and their staff, the administrator's office, the county's human resources office, the economic development department and communication personnel, he said.
The moves will free up space in the commissioners' current building, the former Carnegie Library, 101 N. Sandusky St.
That building will continue to house the county's 911 operation. The county's information-technology and data-processing personnel also will move in, Frommer said, and the county law library will move to the Carnegie building from the former county jail, 20 W. Central Ave.
The county earlier delayed the sale of the former jail until the courthouse renovation is finished, county commissioner Jeff Benton said.
It's been challenging to shift the courthouse from its historic heritage to modern office functionality, but, Frommer said, "The building is going to be fantastic when it's finished."
The building's fireplaces -- its only source of heat in 1869 -- won't be functional, but they will remain visible when the project is finished, he said.
The courthouse also will return to its original wooden floors, he said. For more than a century, new flooring has covered the existing surfaces, he said.
A statue of a Civil War Union soldier has remained in front of the building during the renovation, Frommer said, but monuments commemorating other wars have been temporarily removed.
They will be reinstalled when a veterans plaza is added behind the Civil War statue, he said.
The county's courts moved into a new five-story courthouse on the east side of North Sandusky Street in November 2017. The historic courthouse renovation is an $8.8 million project, said county communications director Jane Hawes. Columbus-based Schooley Caldwell Associates is the architect and the Altman Co. of Columbus is the general contractor.
The need for the Byxbe Campus is a consequence of the county's explosive growth in recent decades, Frommer said.
Delaware County's population in 1990 was 66,929; this year, it will top 217,000, county documents show. At the current growth rate, the population is expected to exceed 271,000 in 2040, according to the documents.
Among other advantages, Frommer said, the campus' location will be central for the many developers filing applications and seeking permits from the county.
The center will house the county engineer, the sanitary engineer, the code compliance office, the regional planning commission, the county sheriff's administration offices, the soil and water conservation district and Ohio State University Extension offices, Frommer said.
As a result, the county will sell 149 N. Sandusky St. -- now the site of the sheriff's office and OSU Extension -- and 50 Channing St., which holds the engineer's office, he said.
Hawes said Columbus-based M+A Architects is handling the Byxbe Campus project. The contractor has not yet been selected and no cost estimate is available on renovation work, she said.
Byxbe will center on the existing 147,000 square feet of building space at the site, and about 37,000 square feet of space for the county engineer's vehicles will be added, Hawes said.
Frommer said the county also will benefit from existing garage and work space at the location.
The Delaware Area Career Center has consolidated all its students into what had been called its South Campus, 4565 Columbus Pike.
Last August, the center completed renovations at the site that increased its original 84,000 square feet to more than 250,000 square feet at a cost of roughly $45 million.
DACC is active year-round, said public information officer Alicia Mowry, with space for community groups, adult-education classes and summer camp for middle school students, in addition to its programs for high schoolers.