The Blair County Courthouse Renovation is still underway, but the team in charge revealed the newest, finished projects: the Lawyer’s Lobby and the restored ceiling in the 1877 Courtroom.
“I feel quite excited, and relieved,” Blair County Commissioner Terry Tomasetti said.
Tomasetti said the new ceiling brings better acoustics to the 1877 Courtroom.
“You can talk. You can hear. It was just an absolute terrible place for proceedings. It showed disrespect to the people who were here that it didn’t really matter what was going on. This is a big step,” he said.
The project’s cosulting conservator, John Rit, said every piece of architecture speaks to him in some way. He wrote in his journal as a young boy, “I see faces in the paint peelings as an erosion of time.” He said the Courthouse brought him similar feelings.
“It spoke of a grandeur of a time that’s gone by but the sulidity of the building really still existed and it was just that it was hidden under being so care-worn,” Rita said.
He continued saying they’re not throwing away or ignoring any of the small details from the original design. Instead, they’re duplicating them, bringing the rooms back to their original glory.
“That’s exactly what we’re doing. I mean, that’s what historic preservation does. It allows us to look at what it was like to be in an earlier time,” Rita said.
For Tomasetti, the building and its rooms spoke of the importance of our justice system.
“This has been the site of our ongoing justice in Blair County since 1877, when it actually opened. And to me, that such a strong message of how we tie to our past and to our future, the continuity of administering justice to our citizens. it’s the biggest thing we do here at the county.”
He added that after folks see the prjoect’s progress, they’ll better understand its purpose.
“Once they’re here, they realize this isn’t just about making pretty pictures. It’s about restoring a building that is very valuable to us not only in terms of our connection to the past, but also financially,” Tomasetti said.
The project’s next phases include mor work on the interior, such as restoring some old furniture. The team said the project is taking longer than expected because of water damage in the rooms.