WAPAKONETA — With refinished stained-glass windows, two new floors, revamped electric and heating systems, and lots of space reorganization, the Auglaize County Courthouse reopened its doors to show off it’s new, state-of-the-art renovations Sunday.
The landmark downtown building was rededicated 118 years after initially opening its doors.
Hundreds walked through the new building to check out the $8.6 million in updates, which was done without borrowing any money. Many visitors were impressed with things such as the sparkling wall tiles and the use of natural light, among other details.
“The space is used so much better than it was before, and the colors and decorating are so much better,” said Betty Lietz, of Wapakoneta. Lietz said she worked in the building years ago as the executive director of the local Red Cross.
“It’s fun to see it now,” she said, pointing and gazing at the stained-glass windows and stencil work with her friend, Marilyn Weber.
The courthouse building was originally built in 1894. Through the years, the courthouse went through a series of minor updates, but the building had become increasingly obsolete and spaces became increasingly tight. Some departments moved out of the courthouse completely because of the lack of room. Architects redesigned the building to preserve aspects of its 19th century character while also updating the building with safety, security and technological measures. Some courthouse departments that left will begin making their way back into the building today.
John Smith, of Wapakoneta, works at the Ohio State University extension office, which used to be housed in the courthouse. He was particularly impressed with the two new stories that were added.
“It surprised me when they said they were going to put in a third and fourth floor. They did a nice job,” Smith said.
For Greg Bergman, of Minster, it was the fact that the courthouse was restored in such a way that didn’t completely alter its historic character. Doing all of that and not borrowing money to do so, too.
“The rehabilitation is what impressed me most,” he said.
State Sen. Cliff Hite said the building was state of the art and at its best when it opened more than 100 years ago, and now, he said “this proved that Auglaize County could do better than its best.”
“One of the neat things is the phone booth that’s in there. You know what it’s for? It’s for [County Commissioner] Don Regula to change into his Superman costume,” Hite said.
Although county commissioners from past and present were thanked several times for their efforts, all who spoke before the open house began agreed that the updates couldn’t have been done so successfully if it weren’t for such a collaborative team effort between everyone involved.
Doug Spencer, president of the Auglaize County commissioners, specifically thanked the taxpayers in completing the project, and said that hopefully the courthouse can be used for another 118 years.
“I couldn’t be any prouder to be a resident of Auglaize County than I am today,” he said.
See more photos of the renovated Auglaize County Courthouse