July 29, 2015 – Tampabaynewswire.com
Halfacre Construction Company (HalfacreConstruction.com), the area’s oldest, most established, locally owned and operated private commercial construction company, completed the historical renovations to the Manatee County Courthouse this month.
The six-month project, which began January 2015, restored the grand historic courtroom to its original glory with the correct finishes and a vintage style while adding the modern conveniences of air conditioning, fire protection and high-speed wireless internet.
A reopening event for the grand courtroom was held on Wednesday, July 15 at 11 a.m. Several area dignitaries and professionals, including 12th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Charles Williams, Manatee County Commissioners Vanessa Baugh, John Chappie, Carole Whitmore and Manatee County Clerk of the Court R.B. “Chips” Shore, were in attendance.
Originally built in 1912 and taking only 16 months to construct, the Manatee County Courthouse was one of the first buildings to be erected in Bradenton using reinforced concrete.
Frank Monhart III, an architect and interior designer for PYRAMID III LIMITED, served as the project manager and interior designer for the Manatee County Clerk of Courts. He worked with Cathy Slusser, director of historical resources for Manatee County Clerk of Courts, to create the neo-classical interior design renovations. The two led the Zoller Autrey Architects team throughout the historic design process. Much of the interior architectural detailing of window and wall moldings, including the built-in furnishings, all the historic color selections and coordination of the historical aesthetics and period-correct window blinds, came from their combined experience.
“Zoller Autrey Architects has a history of working on projects with Halfacre Construction Company, including the Lockheed Martin’s groundwater treatment facility and Sun Hydraulics’ manufacturing plant renovations, and we enjoyed working on this historical redesign with them,” said Darin Autrey, the vice president and principal architect of Zoller Autrey Architects.
The design of the historic courtroom emulates the design of a classic courtroom, but there were no documents, photos or other evidence to indicate what the original design looked like.
“We used some forensic techniques to determine the molding size and paints that were left behind to influence the design,” said Autrey. “Current judges from Manatee County as well as the Clerk of the Court and his legal team were also consulted on the courtroom procedures and layout.The primary purpose of the courtroom is to act as a community asset.”
The over $990,000 renovation included a raised, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible judge’s bench and balustrades, a 14-seat jury box to accommodate a jury and alternates along with bench seating for an audience.
The inmates at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office refinished the existing benches through its work program. The finishes include wood wainscoting, paneling, oak jury chairs, terrazzo flooring and period-correct light fixtures and ceiling fans.