Delaware County Historic Courthouse restoration nearly finished

Paul Comstock
ThisWeek
Delaware County administrator Michael Frommer (left) and county facilities director Jon Melvin look at a painted window, which is nearly 15 feet tall, in the Delaware County Historic Courthouse on North Sandusky Street in Delaware. Removal of an added third floor now exposes the window's full length to those inside the building, which was constructed in 1869.

A Veterans Day ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, at the new veterans memorial in front of the Delaware County Historic Courthouse, where a yearlong restoration project nears completion. 

Throughout the renovations, a statue of a Civil War soldier remained in place, but monuments to other wars temporarily were removed, said county communications assistant Marisa Stith. 

Those monuments now are installed in new positions, along with flags for each branch of the military, as well as a POW-MIA flag, an American flag and a state flag, Stith said.

 The county commissioners plan to rededicate the veterans memorial in a public ceremony lasting about 40 minutes, Stith said.

The courthouse has stood on North Sandusky Street since its construction was completed in November 1869. 

The roughly $9.5 million renovation project modernized the building from top to bottom while preserving and paying homage to many of its vintage features, according to county administrator Michael Frommer and county facilities director Jon Melvin.

More: Pair of overhauls precede office moves in Delaware County

The county's judges and courtrooms earlier moved to the new court building at 117 N. Union St.

On Nov. 20, the Historic Courthouse will be ready for its new occupants to start moving in, Frommer said.

They will include the county commissioners and their staff, the administrator's office, the county's human-resources office, the economic-development department and communication personnel.

They will move into offices still showing the styles of 1869, with the added conveniences and safety of 2020, Melvin said. 

Frommer and Melvin pointed out many original features during a walkthrough of the building.

They include a painted window nearly 15 feet tall on the west wall. Before the restoration, the entire window wasn't visible inside the building. A third-floor section installed in the 20th century, and now removed, abutted the window.

Dozens of other historical features remain in the building. They include a large safe, original stonework forming interior walls on the ground floor, original railings around a staircase underneath a new rail that meets safety code, original fireplaces no longer operational but still providing ambiance and surviving windows painted in 1869.

The building has a new elevator replacing one installed in the 1950s. Steam radiators in many rooms still function, supplemented by a modern forced-air HVAC system. A fire-sprinkler system was installed.

Each floor now has restrooms, and the new ones are equipped with tile floors and wooden panel dividers that wouldn't have appeared out of place in 1869. 

The renovation is coming together nicely, Melvin said Nov. 2.

"The end product is going to be great. It's a major investment in the history of Delaware County. It's a 150-year-old building, and we've done a complete renovation – brought it up to today's modern standards mechanically with HVAC system, with fire suppression and technology – and still maintaining the character of the historical nature of the building," he said.

Stith said work crews recovered a number of historical artifacts during the renovation, such as an Indian head penny from 1897, two glass flasks with cork seals and a flyer for Heseltine’s department store.

She said county communications director Jane Hawes is developing displays of the items that also include blueprints from previous renovations, a copy of a Library of Congress map and a cupola window that once adorned the roof.

The items eventually will hang on walls throughout the building, Stith said.

"Jane has done an incredible job gathering and preserving things," she added.

When the renovated offices are occupied, that will free up space in the commissioners' current building, the former Carnegie Library at 101 N. Sandusky St. That building will continue to house the county's 911 operation.

The county's information-technology and data-processing personnel, as well as the county law library, will move to 101 N. Sandusky St.

The Historic Courthouse renovation is funded with a combination of county general-fund dollars and the county’s share of state casino revenues.

Columbus-based Schooley Caldwell Associates is the architect, and the Altman Co., also based in Columbus, is the general contractor.

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