4-Year Renovation Odyssey

A ‘4-Year Odyssey’
September 7, 2013 marked the end of what Sanders called a "4-year odyssey" to fully restore the Truman Courthouse. He declared a public emergency in early 2009 after engineers warned the building's "structural integrity" was nearing a point of being beyond repair.

That declaration freed up funds to repair the building's foundation, remove a retaining wall and restore the courthouse grounds to their 1933 appearance. “Today’s ceremony is the end of a 4-year odyssey,” pointed out Sanders.

In 1933 Truman used Philadelphia’s Independence Hall as his inspiration when remodeling the courthouse, which had already been modified multiple times throughout the 1800s.
Truman Courthouse Aerial Photo
A State of Emergency
Over 76 years later, the courthouse had deteriorated so severely that Sanders declared a public emergency January 30, 2009 after engineers warned the building’s “structural integrity” was nearing a point of being beyond repair. The emergency declaration freed up contingency funds for renovations that summer to restore the courthouse grounds to their 1933 appearance. In the process, repairs to the foundation were made and a retaining wall, which erected around the building in 1972 as part of an urban renewal project, was dismantled.

“It was with a great deal of satisfaction that we took a sledgehammer to that wall,” Reimal said.

The retaining wall had, for more than 35 years, trapped water from snow melt and rainfall around the courthouse’s foundation.

Saving History
“We were told in 2009 that this courthouse and its rich heritage could be lost to all of us and future generations forever,” recalled Sanders. “Those [2009] repairs and enhancements, we said at the time, were just the first step in our commitment to restoring the Truman Courthouse to its original glory. The goal wasn’t just to return the building to its original design, but to open it back up to the citizens of Jackson County so that it could serve its original purpose."

“The finished product you see behind us meets that stated goal by once again making this a working courthouse.”
Harry S. Truman Bust
Truman's Project Then
In 1933 Truman took intense personal interest in the expansion and redesign of the historic courthouse on the square in Independence, Missouri - such intense interest that the building became known as "Truman's Courthouse."

That same year a new courthouse was built in downtown Kansas City.