Local News

Chatham gets $25M federal loan for judicial center

Posted October 20, 2010 3:23 p.m. EDT
Updated October 20, 2010 3:32 p.m. EDT

— Chatham County on Wednesday received a $25 million federal loan to expedite construction of its judicial center in the wake of a fire that gutted the county's landmark courthouse.

A March 25 fire gutted the building, which was built in 1881, and caused its iconic clock tower to collapse. Authorities determined the fire was accidentally started by workers involved in an exterior renovation and that the blaze quickly spread in the building's attic.

County officials already planned to move all court functions to a judicial center being built two blocks south of the courthouse, but the fire made the need for the new building more urgent.

Superior Court cases are being heard in the auditorium of the county agricultural building, and office space has been rented to house prosecutors and probation officers.

The judicial center is expected to open in 18 to 24 months.

The county plans to rebuild the historic courthouse, and the new building will include a courtroom, space for the Chatham Historical Association, museum space, a possible visitors' center, meeting space and art displays.