Group recognizes courthouse restoration
By CHASE SQUIRES
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 10, 2001
DADE CITY -- The renovation of Pasco County's historic Dade City courthouse has been named to an annual list of outstanding restorations by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, Florida's largest non-profit private historic preservation agency.
The honor bestowed last week, Florida Trust's highest, recognizes work that not only reflects an exceptional exterior overhaul, but work that also retains a building's historic integrity, Trust spokeswoman Heather Mitchell said.
"It's not a beauty contest," Mitchell said. "It recognizes the historical restoration. It's a huge award."
The Tallahassee-based Trust honors only those projects which preserve as much of Florida's history as possible, she said.
Most of the work for the $2.3-million restoration was completed early in 1999, but the county has not rested since the County Commission began using the building as its headquarters. The last major piece of the puzzle -- an overhaul of the tower clock -- is expected to be complete by summer.
Assistant County Administrator Dan Johnson said the award was a tribute to the county employees who took part and to retired commissioner Sylvia Young, who pressed for the project during her tenure.
"If not for her, it would not have been completed," Johnson said.
Mitchell said judges were impressed with the county's attention to detail. Experts in historic restoration looked at every aspect of the restoration, from the paint to the windows.
"We've had projects rejected because of the windows," she said. "They look at everything."
The work, Johnson said, speaks for itself. The brick and wood courthouse, opened in 1909, is an important symbol of Dade City's historic position as the seat of Pasco County government.
Johnson said he could not recall any other project in Pasco County winning the award for outstanding achievement from the Florida Trust.
Nine other projects are scheduled to be honored at a May banquet with Dade City's courthouse, including the Lake Helen City Hall restoration and work on the Lake County courthouse, Stetson University's Elizabeth Hall project in DeLand and restoration of the Crandon Park Carousel in Miami.
"It's a beautiful building," Johnson said. "It's reminiscent of the good old days in Dade City."
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