Tarrant County courthouse gets ready for renovation and restoration

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on March 28, 2014 at 7:15 PM

FORT WORTH -- The NCAA Final Four has prompted some changes to Tarrant County's majestic old courthouse.

Workers removed construction fencing across the front Friday to keep the image pristine for visiting fans and TV crews. But once they leave, the fence comes back, and major renovations will start.

It’s back to the future for Fort Worth’s most famous landmark. Giant pieces of granite for the job were recently moved to the west side of the courthouse.

“We have approximately 450 pieces of Texas pink granite,” said county facilities director David Phillips. He said it’s about $1 million worth.

“Quarried out of Marble Falls, Texas, which is where the original quarry was for the 1895 courthouse,” Phillips said.

Perfect to restore the west side of the courthouse and make it look like it did in 1895, before it was mutilated to make room for a modern civil courts building in the 1950s. It was a square box with vertical louvers covering tall, narrow windows.

“It was such an eyesore and was not habitable,” Phillips said. “Quite a bit of asbestos and things of that nature.”

The county tore it down last year as part of a $10.5 million restoration for the old courthouse; about 20 times the original price tag for the whole building.

“We went down back in 2008 and spent a day with the architect and selected our hill -- our hill of granite,” Phillips said. “And they quarried that particular hill for all these pieces here.”

He said some pieces of the newly-quarried granite were shipped up to Minnesota, where details were cut, such as the rounded balustrades.

The project includes new air conditioning chillers, ramp access, and a 50,000 gallon cistern to water the landscape.

County officials hope to restore the courthouse to its original glory by the end the of the year.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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