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Our gift to us: the renovated courthouse

Harrison County residents will receive an uncommon gift this year. The newly renovated 75-year-old, three-story courthouse on the square in Corydon will be dedicated Saturday.
This ‘gift’ has cost a great deal, about $4 million, but the price has been undoubtedly worth it. This is a public building, which means it belongs to you and me, and anytime a member of the ‘public’ walks through its halls, they should be uncommonly proud. It is beautiful.
On Saturday, Dec. 18, at 11 a.m., the new/old courthouse will be unveiled during an open house and dedication ceremony. As of last Friday, the schedule called for the festivities to begin outside on the west lawn with indoor tours to follow.
The mostly Neoclassical-style building with 12-to-18-inch-thick concrete walls is as solid as ever ‘ about 20 times more so than anything built from scratch today ‘ but now it has been upgraded to fit today’s world. That includes the all-important computer wiring, ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems, and more. It still looks like it could withstand just about anything, even a head-on tornado strike.
The restrooms have been completely redone. Both the men and women’s rooms are now on the east end of the first floor, and unlike before, the rooms are handicapped accessible. The women’s room is nicely decorated, but some might prefer a different color.
While touring the historic building, we should keep in mind that nothing pleases everybody, so we shouldn’t be too critical. The new carpet, flowing draperies and freshly painted walls are a sight better than they had been.
The woodwork throughout the building has been refinished in a honey color except for Judge Tad Whitis’s Harrison Circuit Court on the third floor, which is in a rich, dark stain.
When you walk into the courtroom, look up ‘ as if you couldn’t help it! The old dropped ceiling tiles have been removed one by one to reveal the handsome and room-expanding ‘barrel’ vaulting style of yesteryear. The ceiling has new coats of plaster and paint and big chandelier-type light fixtures.
On the first floor, two display cases will hold treasures too valuable to keep unprotected, but too meaningful to be hidden away in a box.
In most every office, there are spiffy new counters and storage units. Look closely and you’ll see new computer-style desks that aren’t new at all. Most of those are refurbished second-hand units that Auditor Pat Wolfe discovered during an intensive search for affordable furniture.
Her office on the second floor has been vastly expanded into the old foyer to accommodate the larger workforce now necessary. The clerk’s office next door has also increased in size, but there is still a lack of security on the auditor’s side. An enclosure of some sort is needed so that no one can climb over a counter and damage land records or books containing the records of county officials that date back almost 200 years.
There were still some last-minute touch-ups needed last week, like clearing out the employee break room on the first floor so it can be outfitted for use during the employees’ 30-minute lunch breaks.
Harrison Countians gave more than $4 million in riverboat revenue for this project. Everyone should see the results for themselves.