The renovations for the third floor courtroom at the Prowers County Courthouse were given a public showing recently, during an open house attended by the public, Prowers County Commissioners, county employees and members of the 15th Judicial Court.
The courthouse was built in 1929 and, with the added impact of some unfortunate water leakage to the courthouse ceiling, was starting to show its age. The courtroom restoration was part of a comprehensive upgrade to the entire courthouse that began this past summer.
The courtroom restoration was a basic top-to-bottom project, from the ceiling to the walls and was financed principally from a DoLA grant which employed EverGreene Architectural artists who worked on the project for four and a half weeks. Kirk Powers, County Operations Supervisor, said the project was completed earlier than the expected six to seven weeks.
Water damage from a leaking air conduit that was installed in the courtroom ceiling several years ago caused the paint and plaster at the height of the ceiling to begin to fall. Although the problem was resolved as quickly as possible, the damage had set in. The county decided to fund a basic overhaul to the room which involved matching paints to be able to maintain a historic integrity to the 90 years-plus structure.
Once the artists had determined their goal and procured the needed materials, the room was briefly closed off while the floor, bench seats and furniture was covered with drop cloths and scaffolding was erected to allow the workers to reach any portion of the ceiling they needed just by walking across a temporary, elevated floor.
The brands that lined the upper panels near the ceiling had their gilt paint matched and a different color scheme was used for the side walls, going from a light green to a sand colored paint which provides a warmer feel. Judge Stan Brinkley commented, “The wall colors are a little darker than the previous green, but this is something that works very well and will be appreciated for years to come.” He said a project is underway to archive the brands and provide a pronunciation guide for the hieroglyphic-like representations.
A newly paved parking lot to the east of the courthouse has been completed as well as a new sidewalk at the site. A new roof was installed this past year and a new boiler system was installed in the courthouse two years ago. Some major projects are still pending, including a brand new hvac system for the entire building which will require some asbestos abatement procedures and the work has been scheduled for after business hours so as to create as little interference with day-to-day operations for the county. Grant funding for that project was denied, so the commissioners will need to find a means to pay for the needed project with current finances.
By Russ Baldwin
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