Steven L. Abrams
Mary Lou Berger
"An equal opportunity
The historic 1916 County Court House on Dixie Highway in downtown West Palm Beach is well on its way to being restored to its former grandeur. Hedrick Brothers, the contractor, earnestly began the restoration process after receiving the building permit in January 2006.
On the exterior of the building, workmen have restored the entrance stairs on the north, west and south sides, which will lead to each portico adorned with some of the original stone columns that give the building a majestic appearance. The Corinthian capitals, or tops, for the columns were saved too, some from the 1916 structure and some from the Court House annex that was built in 1927 by the same architect.
The building’s original exterior was fireproof yellow brick and limestone with granite trim, and the restoration will incorporate the same materials, though the bricks available today are not the same size or exact color as in the past. However, they will be matched closely with the aid of renderings of the original structure. Interestingly, the same quarry in Indiana that provided the original limestone in 1916 is providing limestone for the restoration.
Inside the building, workers discovered that more historic corridor walls had been removed than anticipated. However, they are now shoring up the structure, repairing the ceiling and preparing to put in two elevators. They were able to salvage some of the original doors and windows, plaster ceiling, maple wood flooring, mosaic tile floors and marble wainscot, base and chair railings. The original marble cornerstone blocks were also preserved.
When the renovation is complete, which is expected to be in November 2007, the building will house the Historical Society of Palm Beach County and a first-ever countywide history museum.
Watch the renovation as it happens on the Web cam.