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Hobbs Architects awarded contract to redesign Chatham County courthouse

Posted Friday, March 18, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - The historic 1891 Chatham County Court House is coming back. After a devastating fire in March of 2010 Hobbs Architects, P.A. was commissioned to make an evaluation of the remaining masonry walls to determine if reconstruction was feasible.

The engineering report confirmed that the massive masonry walls were structurally sound and the Chatham County Commissioners immediately directed Hobbs to stabilize the walls and install a temporary roof to protect the remains until the reconstruction drawings and specifications could be developed.

For Chatham County the historic Court House with its prominent tower cupola in the center of Pittsboro is a key landmark and anchor for county government and public pride. The fire devastated the building but also the mood of many who loved the building and could not imagine Pittsboro without its heart. Architects believe in the importance of architecture and the meaning it brings to the life of communities and to the civic and governmental institutions that support those communities. In an unprecedented expression of affection there were numerous displays of mourning for the burned out shell that included flowers placed at the safety fence surrounding the circle. It was apparent that many citizens had a personal relationship with the Court House and state wide there was recognition of the well known landmark that was in the middle of Route 64 in Pittsboro.

Taylor Hobbs, AIA co-chaired the Court House Task Force to allow citizen input into possible new uses for the historic structure. Many ideas were proposed but the direction of the Commissioners was to restore the second floor court room to its original character and make the ground floor spaces available to the Chatham Historical Association as a museum and office. All areas will be made handicapped accessible and new construction materials will be non-combustible. A fire sprinkler system will be installed. The end result will be a building that looks and feels the same as the original but modernized and made more useful to the citizens of Chatham County.

Hobbs Architects, P.A. has the reconstruction drawings in progress for completion in late spring of 2011. The work is scheduled to be bid and construction is to begin in the summer of 2011. The design work is proceeding under the guidance of the North Carolina Department of Archives and History and the Chatham County Historical Association to assure that the architectural character of the building is retained. Wherever possible the original materials and appearance are being replaced. The building will contain up to date plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems, to support new public uses as well as the District Court that will continue in the main court room.

 
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