MIAMI - The columns that once adorned the entrance to the old Ottawa County Courthouse were uncovered Monday as cranes began to demolish the 93-year-old building.
When the bricks on the west wing toppled, round and square columns emerged after being boarded up more than 50 years ago.
“The support columns located on the west side of the current courthouse were between the first and second floors and contained intricate scrollwork at the top,” said Ottawa County Commissioner John Clarke.
The courthouse was built in 1916. The brick east and west wing additions that wrapped around the original Classical Revival structure were added in 1953, he said. Clarke said he spent most of Monday morning shooting video.
“We suspect we are going to find columns on the east side, too,” he said.
“You could tell the building was tired and worn out,” said Norman Youngberg, who was among the townspeople gathered to watch. “I felt like it needed to be replaced.”
From 1972 to 1998, Youngberg owned N-R Industries, a machine shop near the courthouse. He spent all day Monday watching three cranes at work.
“I was feeling a little bit of nostalgia when you think of a building that has served the community for almost 100 years,” Youngberg said.
Youngberg said he would estimate the crews demolished about a third of the building on Monday.
“Most of the jail was pulled off,” he said.
Yellow aged papers flew out of the building when a crane hit the old jail on the fourth floor, he said.
“A pincher-crane was grabbing four-foot sections of each column like it was a toothpick,” Youngberg said.
The crane operator operated with surgical precision when he took apart the 30-foot columns, he said. The marble floor and staircase and other items salvaged from the courthouse were auctioned off in January and brought in about $15,000, Clarke said.
“The marble went pretty cheap,” Clarke said. “We were able to save 100 squares which will be incorporated into a memorial garden outside the new courthouse.”
Time capsules from 1919 and 1953 were also unearthed in the past several months. They contained newspaper clippings, coins and a list of officeholders, Clarke said.
The courthouse was added to the state's historical registry in 2004, but being part of the registry did not prevent the demolition, he said.
“Sometimes a building has to come down because of its age or other issues,” Clarke said. “With the courthouse, there were safety issues that couldn't be fixed.”
The new two-story $5.7 million courthouse houses all the county offices with the exception of the election board, the extension offices and a portion of the small claims division. Those offices are housed in an annex building, a former bank building across from the courthouse.
A new 70-space parking lot will replace the old courthouse.
The demolition work is being handled by DT Specialized Services in Tulsa for $68,000 and expected to last two weeks.