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County to hold update on old courthouse plans
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Courthouse rehab plans
County commissioners will hold a public information meeting tonight to discuss the plans and future for the historic Effingham Courthouse. The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the county administrative complex. Members of the design-build team will be on hand for a question and answer session.

Effingham County commissioners will hold a public information meeting tonight to discuss the ongoing rehabilitation of the historic courthouse.
Commissioners and county staff will present the plans for the old courthouse, now more than 100 years old, and the progress being made at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held in the county administrative complex upon the conclusion of the commissioners’ meeting.

Commissioners approved reconstruction to the original 1909 layout and using original materials where available. Otherwise, new pieces will be stained to match the original design.

 “The original courtroom layout is very different from what it is today,” county project manager Adam Kobek said. “Both the current layout and the original design have intrinsic historic design.”

Under its initial 1909 design, the courtroom had no witness stand and the jury platform was an independent structure. The judge’s bench also was situated much higher, and there were two pot-bellied stoves adjacent to the judge’s bench — keeping the jurist warm on cold days.

Aside from the judge’s seat, the original courtroom had a spot for the court clerk, but any witnesses would have stood or sat in a chair placed on the floor.

There were four options presented to the county for the look of the courtroom. Included in one of the original designs was a two-foot-high riser, but Kobek said they couldn’t find any evidence that it was built.

Work on the courthouse is scheduled to be completed by October, with a price tag of approximately $3.22 million. The project is being funded by proceeds of the special local option sales tax.

“I think it’s going to be beautiful,” Commissioner Verna Phillips said.