Town Hall Review Committee tours old courthouse
Reviewing a plan to convert the former Litchfield County courthouse into a town hall during a tour of the vacant building Monday are, from left, First Selectman Leo Paul Jr., Selectman Jeffrey Zullo, Paul Hinkel of the Greater Litchfield Preservation Trust, and architect Gary Johnson. BZ photos
The former Litchfield County courthouse was on full display Monday, giving town officials and others a sense of what could be in the future.
Members of the Town Hall Review Committee, the Greater Litchfield Preservation Trust, which owns the building, and the public toured the historic edifice to see how it would be renovated to become a new town hall. The estimated cost of a renovation is $4.6 million, according to the GLPT.
The GLPT's plan for the building was devised by Cambridge Seven Architects of Cambridge, Mass. Gary Johnson, one of the architects from the firm, participated in Monday's tour and described the old courthouse as a well-built structure that could be turned into a highly-functional town hall.
The Town Hall Review Committee chaired by Selectman Jeffrey Zullo is also evaluating a plan to build a new town hall on the lot behind Town Hall at an estimated cost of $5.9 million and a plan to expand Town Hall to 20,000 square feet at an estimated cost of $8 million.
The estimated cost of a new town hall covers all of the costs for the building such as office furniture and furnishings and technology, as well as the cost of demolishing Town Hall. The plan for the courthouse only shows the estimated cost of renovating the building. Furniture, furnishings and technology costs and the cost of knocking down Town Hall would come on top of the $4.6 million.
The committee's job is to conduct a thorough review of each plan and make a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen by late summer or early fall. The board would decide whether to support a recommendation and bring it to voters in a referendum.
Monday's tour revealed the archaic conditions of the old courthouse, particularly in its basement where a 1930s-era boiler still pumps out heat. At 18,000 square feet, including the basement, the building is large enough for all town offices. The first selectman's office would be on the second floor, overlooking the Green, under the GLPT's plan.
The GLPT bought the building on Oct. 31 and believes it is the best option for a new town hall. The trust would carry out a renovation project in a partnership with the town and at some point would turn the building over to the town.
John Post, chairman of Litchfield's Energy Task Force, inspects the boiler room in the basement.
Selectman Jeffrey Zullo, right, and Paul Hinkel, left, and Byron Brooks, both of the Greater Litchfield Preservation Trust, get a look at the basement and its holding cells.
First Selectman Leo Paul Jr., left, Selectman Jeffrey Zullo, right and architect Gary Johnson tour what were the judges' chambers in the old courthouse.