New Uses for the Old Courthouse Someday

Sep 17, 2012

There’s interest in a total overhaul of the Lexington’s historic downtown courthouse.  Last week, the city indefinitely closed the building, which sits at the corner of Main and Upper Streets, to the public.  Lexington General Services Commissioner Sally Hamilton says the 114 year old building has lead, asbestos and structural problems.  “We know we have got a lot of lead in there, but we would like to have something in concrete that tells us exactly where the majority of that lead is and some of the recommendations on how to abate that,” said Hamilton.

The building was first shut down this summer for an assessment of lead problems.  Until the closure, the building housed the Lexington History Museum, the Lexington Public Safety Museum, and the Kentucky Renaissance Pharmacy Museum.  The museums plan to continue operations at alternate sites, but no final decisions have been made.  While the former courthouse is shuttered, Hamilton says it is ‘far from abandoned and it will be opened again one day.’

“It’s like one of the crown jewels of downtown.   And so we’ve gotta, we’re not gonna, nobody wants to shutter this building for years.  And yet, I don’t want any kind of, we’re very sensitive here that we don’t want any deterioration to that building,” added Hamilton.

The old courthouse building dates back to 1898.  In 2002, the state built new courthouses just a block away.  A study into renovation costs has already begun.