Administration Building and Sumter County Courthouse
A complete makeover for the Sumter County Administration building is in the works as the Historic Preservation Design Review Committee approved plans at a March hearing to tear down an adjacent office and expand the county’s East Canal Street footprint. This is a $2.8 million project.
Sumter City-County Senior Planner Jeff Derwort briefed the committee on plans to demolish a two-story 1,300-square-foot building that sits in front of the Administration building on the corner of East Canal and North Harvin streets. It was built in the 1940s, he said, and wasn’t identified as being part of Historical Research Surveys completed in 1985 and 2010. It’s not inside the Downtown National Register District, he said, and has no unique architectural characteristics that define or contribute to downtown’s Historic District.
Planning staff recommends approval of the demolition, he said, and no one spoke either for or against it before the committee voted to approve moving forward with the project.
“Good riddance,” committee chairman J. Grady Locklear quipped.
Senior Planner Helen Roodman then spoke about the companion application – a three-story addition to the existing Administration building that will replace the structure once it is razed. The new addition will accommodate public functions, she said, such as tax collections, the Auditor’s office and County Council chambers and will also make non-public functions more secure.
The main function of the building, she said, is “really specifically geared toward serving the public.”
“Architecturally it’s being designed to be compatible with the new Judicial Center on North Harvin Street. It’s taking some of its architectural cues from that building and also using some of the materials and colors on the existing Administration building for some of its design aesthetic,” she said.
The Administration building was formerly a bank built in the 1970s, she said, which Sumter County acquired in the 1980s. The metal fascia bands “need some love and attention,” she said, which will be addressed, along with other aesthetic issues. The new entrance will feature access from the parking lot with sidewalks that wrap around and a crosswalk that connects to the other side of North Harvin Street, she said. Mechanical equipment for a new elevator shaft and new HVAC equipment will be added, along with a terraced walkway that’s handicap accessible.
Plans for the new Administration building should “create a sense of space and place to create a public functions node,” to tie the corridor together, she said. An application is in place for work at the rear of the old Courthouse “to continue tying that area together,” she said. The new addition for the Administration building has been designed by Sumter architect R. Scott Bell, who is a committee member. He recused himself from the proceedings on Thursday.
“It’s a great addition to the city,” Locklear said, and fellow committee member William A. W. Buxton agreed, as the project was unanimously approved.
Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon said the much needed renovation and makeover will greatly enhance a key facet of county government, which is serving the public.
“The Treasurer’s office and Auditor’s office will be expanded and County Council chambers will be reconfigured all with the goal of making it easier on the public when they visit the Administration building,” he said. “This is a ‘Penny for Progress’ project that touches on many areas and also falls under Team Sumter’s ongoing goal of improving Downtown Sumter.”
SUMTER COUNTY COURTHOUSE
An icon of Sumter County is getting a $3 million makeover.
Renovations for the Sumter County Courthouse as part of the ‘Penny for Progress’ received approval in March from the Historic Preservation Design Review Committee, as the 111-year-old structure continues to serve citizens in several ways.
Home to several offices such as Voter Registration and Elections, Emergency Management and the Register of Deeds, the Sumter County Courthouse at 141 North Main Street was built in 1907 by architects William Augustus Edwards and Frank C. Walter in the Beaux Arts style, according to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. A two-year restoration, alteration and addition was completed in 1965 by the architecture firm James and Durant, A.I.A & Associates. The contractor was C.B. Askins & Company of Lake City. Mary W. Edwards nominated the Courthouse to be added to the National Register on April 27, 2004, and on June 16, 2004, it was approved.
City-County Planning Department Senior Planner Helen Roodman spoke before the Historic Preservation Design Review Committee about the history of the courthouse and upgrades that are in the works. A new elevator and restrooms that are handicap-accessible will be added, she said, along with new windows and exterior façade improvements. The courthouse was commissioned in 1905, she said, to replace a previous building that dated to 1821. Occupying an entire block and bounded by North Main, East Canal and Law Range, the courthouse will not see substantive changes to the front, other than to replace windows installed in the 1960s that will “essentially look exactly the same” as the current windows, she said.
The back of the building that faces North Harvin Street will see the addition of a column structure to accommodate new restrooms and an elevator shaft, which will all be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Colors will be updated, she said, exterior damage will be repaired and windows will be replaced and all proposed brickwork will match existing brickwork. In keeping with guidelines, new additions will have a “simple, unobtrusive design,” that’s compatible with the 1960s addition, she said.
Custom designed and double-paned Pella windows that are energy efficient will be installed, replacing the single pane windows. Architect Danny Shelley of James, Durant, Matthews & Shelley A.I.A. spoke briefly about the project to committee members J. Grady Locklear, R. Scott Bell, Jean W. Whitaker and Julie M. Herlong. Shelley said the windows are in “desperate need” of being replaced and that he and Dennis Powell, facilities manager for Sumter County Government, discovered the stonework has been painted “in anybody’s lifetime.” His goal is to get back to the original limestone color on the front columns, he said. The trim color won’t be “refrigerator white,” like it’s been, but a softer white, he said.
“All I’ve got to say is it’s very interesting to work on the project,” Shelley told the committee.
There were no questions from the committee or public and Herlong made a motion to approve, which passed unanimously.
Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon said he’s looking forward to seeing the long-awaited project get underway.
“Our Courthouse has long been a recognizable landmark of Sumter County and many people associate it with our history, along with the statue of General Thomas Sumter on the front lawn,” he said. “Last summer we hosted Fourth Fridays at the Courthouse and saw many families having fun and enjoying the music. This is really an investment in keeping our history alive and we’re excited to add our part to the revitalization of downtown with a new look Administration building and renovated Courthouse.”