By Alex Haglund
More than 130 years after its original construction, people gathered in front of the historic Washington County Courthouse for a rededication ceremony, following it’s more-than-year-long renovation and restoration.
Speaking to those gathered for the occasion was Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier, of Nashville. Karmeier spoke about his own history with the Washington County Courthouse, and the history of the county, and the first county courthouse, actually built in Covington in March 1818.
When the county seat moved after the split with Clinton County, the first Nashville Courthouse was built in 1831.
Next, there was a courthouse built in 1840, which then burned down in 1883. In 1884, the historic Washington County Courthouse that we all know was erected.
Karmeier credited the courthouse’s latest renovation and transformation, the first major project since 1965, to the “wisdom and the willingness” of the people to spend money on the county’s business.
Finally, Karmeier speculated that following these renovations, the courthouse could easily last another hundred years. At that time the Justice said, people might look back at the current $4.1-million renovation and say, “What a bargain!”
Washington County Board Building Committee Chair Gary Suedmeyer took to the podium to elaborate on the years-long process that it took not just to complete the renovation, but to even get to its starting point.
Suedmeyer praised his building committee and their ability and fortitude to work through “lots of unforeseen issues.”
Suedmeyer also credited the project’s success to the original architects for the project, Image Architects, who went out of business just after construction began, Eggemeyer and Associates, who took their place, McDonough and Whitlow Engineers, and the project’s general contractor, Korte and Luitjohn.
Peter Korte spoke at the gathering as well, thanking his crew and the county itself.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to do this project,” Korte said. “It was an amazing, amazing transformation.”
Finally, County Board Chair David Meyer thanked Prairie State Energy, whose new construction in the county helped to make all of this possible.
“Economic growth has allowed what we’re doing here in the last seven or eight years,” said Meyer. “You’re seeing the results of that economic growth.”
Also unveiled at the rededication was the Washington County 9/11 Memorial, located in the courthouse. For more information on the memorial, see page A8.