County Engineer Clyde Naylor gets a gleam in his eye every time he walks through the old Utah County Courthouse.
Although the walls are bare sheetrock, and half of the ceiling is on the floor, Naylor only sees what the building is going to become - or rather what it will be again."It is important to recognize the beauty of this building," Naylor said, as he looked into the picture-glass skylights. "They really put a lot of money into this building when they first built it. But then they still practiced this stuff as a craft."
It would be impossible to reproduce some of the plaster sculptures and skylights that cover the second and third floors of the old courthouse, Naylor said. But what the county can do, they will.
"Our purpose is to restore just as much as possible and get another 50 years use out of it," Naylor said.All of the woodwork will be stripped of its black paint and restored to the original finish. Decorative window and door frames will be lowered to be seen from under false ceilings installed to lower heating costs.
"We are also restoring all the original furniture and making it available to the tenants if they want it," Naylor said. Some of the large roll-top desks could be worth $2,000 when refinished, he said.
"What I'm really excited about is that we will bring some of the feeling from upstairs down to the bottom floor," Naylor said.
The first floor was built in 1922 and housed two jails and one court. Its walls are simple plaster. Then, between 1922 and 1926, the county decided to complete the building and to make it more glamorous as it went up.
"We expect to cover the bottom-floor pillars with marble, and possibly tile the floors in marble, depending on how the money situation is," Naylor said.
Some of the basic safety changes are a new sprinkler system and two new stairways for fire safety. There will also be updated handicap facilities.
The building's only occupant is Congressman Bill Orton, D-Utah. Other tenants are expected to move in during late fall or early winter. They include: On the third floor with Orton, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and possibly Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah; on the second floor, the Provo-Orem Chamber of Commerce and Mountainland Association of Governments; and on the first floor, the Utah County Travel Council, March of Dimes and offices for the justice of the peace and the sheriff's civil division.
The county also hopes to make arrangements with local art museums to display artwork throughout the building.