Courthouse renovations in full swing to preserve history

Published 6:08 pm Friday, April 8, 2016

Have you noticed something different about the Decatur County Courthouse this week?

It has a fresh pressure washing and a new coat of paint, and that’s just a portion of the restorations being made to the neglected piece of county history.

Courthouse employees had been dealing with leaks, rotting and general neglect for years before motions were made by the Decatur County Board of Commissioners to begin restoration work last August. It started with repairing the roof, and will continue with window and floor renovations.

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“I know that there are other buildings that are probably older, but I don’t know if they hold the same significance as the courthouse,” Clerk of Courts Cecilia Willis said. “This is history. It’s our history, besides the fact that it is one of the most beautiful courthouses in Georgia.”

The offices of judges Edwin J. Perry and A. Wallace Cato and the secondary courtroom had to be stripped and evacuated as leaks from the roof trickled down inside, creating black mold problems and other water issues. The conditions made it difficult to work, and also were a health hazard.

The windows, inside and outside, are deteriorating. Willis expects a specialist will be needed to work on them to restore them to their original state.

Willis said Decatur County Administrator Alan Thomas played an integral part in getting the ball rolling. First on the checklist was “keeping the outside from getting inside,” and with that marked off, more plans for restoration can proceed.

“Within weeks, he had addressed the issue of the roof and he had addressed the issue of maintenance,” Willis said.

Part of that address was appointing detail officer James Coddington to Decatur County Maintenance Director,. He is charged with overseeing the operation and maintenance of county buildings.

“The courthouse is only one of the projects he is taking care of,” Thomas said. “We have just finished doing upgrades at the Waste Water Treatment Plant. He does beautification work. He is absolutely doing building maintenance, which nobody had been charged with. He is doing a good job. I’m proud of his accomplishments.”

Other, smaller upgrades have been made to the inside of the courthouse, including swapping out older light fixtures for LED lighting.