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State’s architectural historian to look at old jail

By Staff | Nov 29, 2013

Tim Chapman/PCT These wooden columns in the former sheriff’s residence at the annex of the Pierce County Courthouse will likely be a topic of discussion when the state’s architectural historian inspects the old jail before renovations begin.

Before work can begin on renovating the old jail into space for Pierce County Social Services, the State Historical Society will take a look.

Lorna Meidinger, the architectural historian, will visit with the Board of Commissioners on Monday and look at the structure adjoined to the courthouse.

“In cases like this where it’s a renovation project, we take a look at what historic fabric is still in the building, in the interior,” Meidinger said, “and then we talk with the architect and any other designer about what should really be retained to keep the character.”

Architects from consulting firm EAPC will oversee the renovation.

Meidinger will use a set of guidelines, the Standards for Rehabilitation, from the Secretary of the Interior when determining how much of the historic character of the property will be retained and preserved.

“The premise is always repair what you can first, and if something needs replaced you replace it in kind,” Meidinger said. “If that’s not an option, then we work together to find a best match to keep the overall character as close as possible.”

The county’s social services department will use both floors of the building once the renovations are completed. Bidding for the project will open on Dec. 17. EAPC estimates the project will cost about $250,000.

The space will have seven offices and a reception area. A concrete wall and steel cells will be removed and the steel will be salvaged by the county. Plumbing, electrical and windows will be replaced. New carpeting also will be installed.

The courthouse and jail were opened in 1911, with the sheriff’s residence a wall apart from the holding cells. The dispatch moved out of the location in 2005.

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