A brand new, old courthouse | SteamboatToday.com

A brand new, old courthouse

Project will preserve historic structure

Brandon Gee

Routt County Commissioners Doug Monger, left, and Diane Mitsch Bush discuss the Routt County Courthouse renovation project with job site superintendent Rob Davis, who works for Holmquist-Lorenz Construction Company.

Steamboat Springs — Renovations to the historic Routt County Courthouse are under way, with officials throughout the county eagerly anticipating the completion of a project that Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said will add “new life to the old building.” — Renovations to the historic Routt County Courthouse are under way, with officials throughout the county eagerly anticipating the completion of a project that Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said will add “new life to the old building.”

— Renovations to the historic Routt County Courthouse are under way, with officials throughout the county eagerly anticipating the completion of a project that Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said will add “new life to the old building.”

“It really solidifies our presence in downtown Steamboat Springs,” Monger said. “The big thing we’re trying to do is solidify the downtown campus. : All the commissioners cherish the building.”

Renovations began following the 14th Judicial District’s move to the new Routt County Justice Center in west Steamboat. The project will preserve the downtown building’s historic structure and utilize space vacated by the courts. The Courthouse Annex also will be remodeled to provide additional space for county departments, by bringing the county’s Department of Environmental Health and coroner’s office to the downtown campus.

Those two departments currently are housed in rental space near Oak and Fourth streets.

“We’re renovating the old courthouse building, creating new offices and upgrading systems throughout,” said Rob Davis, job-site superintendent for contractor Holmquist-Lorenz Construction Company. “At the same time, we are maintaining the historical integrity of the building.”

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The $3.5 million project, partially funded by grants, is scheduled for completion next fall.

While undergoing a major renovation, Davis said the old courthouse interior will remain recognizable.

“You’ll notice a lot of the same historical features, but the configuration of the space is a lot different,” Davis said.

Working with a historic building poses challenges, Davis said, but has not significantly altered the way he approaches the project.

“We are just employing some different methods,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t say we’re changing. It’s just part of the process of a project of this scope.”

Davis said the building’s structure is in good shape, despite its age.

Holmquist-Lorenz does not specialize in historic projects but is working with subcontractors who do, including a Denver company that is restoring the windows. The county chose architects Andrews & Anderson to design the project due to the firm’s good reputation with historic preservation work.

Andrews & Anderson also is

the architect for the new Steamboat Springs Community Center, currently under construction west of downtown. But unlike that project, the courthouse renovation will not be seeking an environmentally friendly designation. Nonetheless, Davis said the project is incorporating green building methods such as the recycling of materials.

“It’s a project where we’re just doing that on our own because we know that’s important,” Davis said. “We just do it because we have that desire to start moving that direction.”

Monger and the other county commissioners will ultimately move from the Courthouse Annex to the third floor of the old courthouse. The former Routt County District Courtroom will become their new hearing room, which is about a third larger than their current space.

“We’re going to be able to accommodate a much larger public hearing,” Monger said. “We are limited in our size when we have the Xcel-type hearings.”

Earlier this year, hearings regarding a controversial rail-spur that Xcel Energy plans to build east of Hayden drew large public turnouts, making the hearings standing-room-only events.

The commissioners’ currently cramped offices will not see a similar upgrade in space, although Monger said they would be “a little bit” bigger.