2016 Best Public Building Improvement
The Davidson County Board of Commissioners voted to restore the exterior of the Old Davidson County Courthouse on South Main Street in Uptown Lexington in August of 2013. The iconic building is the home of the Davidson County Historical Museum. The Old Court House, constructed in 1858 in the Greek Revival architecture style, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971 and is both a contributing building in the Uptown Lexington National Register District and the first property in Lexington to be individually listed on the National Register. The County Commissioners acknowledged the historical significance of the structure and took great care to ensure its preservation during the restoration which included repairs to the building's cornice, portico, soffit areas, gutters and down-spouts, removal of lead paint and renovation of the steps. The project followed the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Historic Rehabilitation.
The total cost of the project was $1.15 million. The project began in August of 2013 and was completed in September of 2014, six months later than originally projected due to the discovery of asbestos in the stucco, which was removed and replaced. They also discovered foundation erosion below the steps, some of which had to be replaced.
The project became a catalyst for the purchase and renovation of several properties surrounding the Old Courthouse in Uptown Lexington. As the tallest building in the center of the city, the restoration sends a message that County Commissioners are not only invested in manufacturing and businesses in the county, but also in preservation and downtown economic development.
After the restoration, the Davidson County Historical Museum instituted Saturday hours, added outside signage to notify visitors when the museum and Old Courthouse are open for tours and began an intensive social media campaign. Foot traffic has increased by 17 percent and tourism in general increased in Lexington by 3.5 percent from 2014 to 2015, which spurred additional investment in Uptown and resulted in the opening of five new eateries and an occupancy rate of 95 percent on lower levels of buildings.
The NC Department of Commerce - NC Main Street and Rural Planning congrats Davidson County Board of Commissioners for being recognized for this amazing work.