LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)-- Mayor Jim Gray revealed a new addition to the historic courthouse at 10 a.m. Monday.
It has been closed to the public for 60 years, home to rusting heating and air conditioning equipment, an elevator shaft, peeling paint and deteriorating plaster.
The reopening of the dome is part of a $32 million restoration of the courthouse, expected to be finished in late spring.
The building was one of the first electrified buildings in the area, and its innovative use of electric lights in the dome was groundbreaking when the building opened 119 years ago.
The dome, Limestone Hall, has been leased to LexEffect, an event management company, and the first events will be held there later this month. All of the space in the courthouse is leased. The rent will be used to cover operating and maintenance costs.
The restoration was partially financed through historic tax credits. “We didn’t want the cost of another government building to maintain,” Gray said. “And we financed the restoration partially through historic tax credits. We involved the private sector rather than go it alone with public dollars.”
Although the dome is finished, work continues on the other floors of the courthouse. The public will be invited to tour the building when work is complete in late spring.
Until then, citizens are encouraged to drive by and take a look at the many changes. The building is now lit at night, and most of the construction fence has been removed, making it possible to see the exterior changes.
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