Restoration of Hampshire County Courthouse moving ahead
NORTHAMPTON — An Amherst consulting firm with expertise in fundraising is conducting a feasibility study for the restoration of the 126-year-old Hampshire County Courthouse, further advancing efforts to renovate the historic building.
The courthouse, under the stewardship of the Hampshire Council of Governments, is one of the oldest and best-known landmarks in downtown Northampton. It is in need of some $4 million in repairs.
The council this month hired Financial Development Agency of Amherst to study the funding potential for a full restoration project to address serious structural and safety issues outlined in a 2010 architectural study. The work would include fixing the stairs to the main entrance, stabilizing a northwest exterior wall, rebuilding deteriorated structural walls and repairing the northwest structural rafters and slate roof.
The building houses the Council of Governments offices, a courtroom and the county law library. It is connected to a newer courthouse on Gothic Street by an enclosed walkway.
Financial Development will spend the next 10 weeks interviewing community leaders and government officials and researching funding options. The firm will present a recommendation to the council this spring.
The council has already secured some money from communities through the Community Preservation Act and it will also tap into the Grousbeck Fund. The fund, established in memory of the late Harold I. Grousbeck, left $150,000 to the courthouse for its maintenance, upkeep and renovation. About $132,000 remains in the fund. Todd Ford, executive director of the Council of Governments, said it will be used to hire a project manager and a private consultant to help raise money.
The courthouse has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.