The 1884 Chesterfield County Courthouse will receive a makeover thanks to a grant from the federal National Preservation Society.
The town of Chesterfield received at $150,000 from the Save America’s Treasures Foundation to help preserve one of the county’s most iconic structures.
Chesterfield mayor John Douglas said that the grant would help remodel the entire building.
“This is a total renovation of the building,” Douglas said. “The bottom part of the courthouse was our visitor’s center before work started and that will still be the case following the renovations. The downstairs will also include offices for the Chamber of Commerce, a gift shop, an art gallery and a history museum. The upstairs portion of the building is the old courtroom. It will be reopened and turned into a performing arts center.”
The grant project will included installation of a sprinkler system, an elevator and work on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems within the building.
The project will be staggered into phases and Douglas said that part of the renovation is already underway on the first floor.
Douglas said that the town purchased the courthouse a few years ago and remains dedicated to keeping it as an important feature in the community.
“When you think of Chesterfield you think of this building,” he said. “It dominates downtown. We love the building and it is part of us. We’ve even incorporated it in our logo and on our street signs.”
“It’s our building,” he said. “We want to have that building. It’s important to our town’s health.”
Douglas said that South Carolina Representative John Spratt worked diligently in securing the grant for the community.
The 1884 Chesterfield County Courthouse was constructed after the previous courthouse was burned by General William T. Sherman’s troops during the Civil War. The courthouse ground is marked with a monument to observe the first secession meeting held in the South preceding the Civil War.
The 1884 courthouse replaced the 1825 courthouse which it measured 50 by 40 feet. It was located on the same site as the present courthouse. Stone steps led to a front portico that rested on brick arches and featured iron hand rails and “brick columns rough cast and painted marble colour.” It was paved with the “best quality of tile and grouted” and was finished “in handsome style with wooden Cornish.”
The internal arrangement of the 1825 courthouse is somewhat harder to visualize than the external appearance. Four county offices connected by a central hall were located on the first floor, the courtroom on the second and the jury rooms on the third.
The structure stood as the county’s courthouse until the current county courthouse was completed in 1977.
The Save America’s Treasures grant program is one of the largest and most successful grant programs in the nation.
Grants are awarded to federal, state, local and tribal government entities and are administered by the National Park Service.
The grants are awarded to ensure the preservation and conservation of nationally significant intellectual and cultural artifacts and collections.