Glow returns Fayette courthouse dome, but much work remains
by Beverly Fortune, 10.17.12, Kentucky.com
The dome atop the old Fayette County Courthouse went dark seven years ago, prompting Debbie Long, owner of Dudley’s on Short Street, to describe the looming structure as a big black hole in the downtown sky.
Out of the darkness came light this week when the dome on the historic structure was once again illuminated.
“Turns out it was eight burned-out bulbs, but the dome is over 100 feet from ground level and the bulbs were difficult to get to,” said Jeff Fugate, president of the Downtown Development Authority…Read more at Kentucky.com
Questions & Answers: Foster Ockerman
by Tom Martin, 10.11.12, BizLex.com
If you’ve been in downtown Lexington lately you’ve no doubt noticed that Short Street and the Cheapside area have sprung to life. But looming there in the very center of it all is the imposing old Fayette County Courthouse. More than 100 years old, the imposing stone structure is off limits to the public after the discovery of lead, asbestos and mold contamination inside. The Courthouse Square Foundation estimates a complete renovation of the century old building at about $18 million. A reactivated foundation has been working quietly in recent months to develop a fresh approach to restoration and a campaign to get it done. Foster Ockerman, Jr. is president of the Courthouse Square Foundation.
TM (Tom Martin): The old courthouse has been shuttered after discovery of mold, lead paint and asbestos. It’s sitting there in this condition, in the middle of the otherwise booming Cheapside district. Where do things stand?
FO (Foster Ockerman): It is critical, with everything happening at the Fifth Third Pavilion on Cheapside, the restaurants and bars, that we can’t have this black hole right in the middle of all of that. There has got to be a solution. Fortunately, Mayor [Jim] Gray and his administration are committed to the restoration of the building, and that’s the key. We’re not going to do a quick fix. We’re not going to rush in and abate the lead without being sensitive to the fact that a lot of this lead paint is 200-year-old ornamentation murals that need to be preserved and contained and not just scraped off, removed and vacuumed out of the building…Read more at BizLex.com
Restoring the old courthouse is a crucial community investment
by Robbie Clark, 8.03.12, SouthsiderMagazine.com
Unfortunate news emerged last month that, due to the discovery of hazardous lead paint, the historic old Fayette County Courthouse was going to be closed indefinitely to the public, effective immediately, along with all of its tenants – a small collection of museums, including the Lexington History Museum.
Though it was fortunate that the dangerous material was detected before any of the courthouse’s workers or visitors were affected, it’s disheartening now to witness the success of the immediate district adjacent to the courthouse, marked by an abundance of new bars and restaurants and so much activity, while its anchor, the old courthouse, sits shuttered.
But closing the iconic downtown structure may just be the impetus needed to spark a robust and concerted effort throughout the city to not only get the old courthouse’s doors re-opened, but to restore the impressive structure to its original grandeur. For a detailed account of the courthouse’s early majesty from an authoritative source, please read history columnist Jamie Millard’s descriptive piece on this “architectural wonder”; incidentally, Millard is also the president and CEO of the Lexington History Museum, so it is a subject very close to his heart, especially since he can’t get into his office…Read more at SouthsiderMagazine.com