Historic Old Courthouse Renovated and Now Open to Public - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Historic Old Courthouse Renovated and Now Open to Public


DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - After two years and $13 million, major renovations to the historic old Kent County courthouse are complete. And Saturday for the first time the public had the chance to see the overhaul.

Sarah Zimmerman gives tours around courtroom one inside the historic courthouse. The building sits on the Green and is part of the First State Heritage Park. It was originally built in 1874.

"In 1918, they switched it to this colonial revival style, so that it matched a lot more of the buildings on the Green," said Zimmerman. "But it wasn't until after World War II that we got more than one courtroom. All the courts in Dover we sharing this courtroom."

Kent County Resident Judge Hon. William Witham Jr. says the process to update Kent County's courts began more than 25 years ago.

"We had to do it in several stages," Witham said. "The first stage was the new courthouse. The second stage was to redo the old historic courthouse."

It was $73 million to construct the new building and $13 million, to renovate the old. Witham says the way the old courthouse was there were security issues and  rapidly deteriorating courtroom conditions. He says the work has made a huge difference in this court which handles both superior and chancery cases.

"So, we welcome that opportunity to show the general public what we've done here."
There will be plenty of chances to see it, whether on a tour or perhaps as a party in a case.

Witham expects the courtroom to look like it does now for a long while.

"It's unlikely we'll be given additional moneys from the state to do any further renovations," said Witham. "So, we're largely done."

He says the current setup is designed to last 25 to 30 years.

The First State Heritage Park is offering tours of the historic courtroom the first Saturday of every month. They run from 1:30 PM to 4 PM beginning at the John Bell House on the Green in Dover.

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