JANUARY 3, 2013 -- The goal is to put this building back to work.
Three years ago, the Historic Jackson County Truman Courthouse was restored to its full glory -- on the outside. Now work is underway to remodel the interior, with the objective being reopening the national landmark on Independence Square as a "working courthouse" later this year.
When open for business, the Truman Courthouse will space allotted for the offices of various county departments currently located in the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse (formerly known as the Independence Annex), including staff members from Recorder of Deeds, Collection and Assessment Departments. The building will also house the Jackson County Historical Society and the Independence Tourism Department.
Furthermore, the courthouse, which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972, will feature a gallery displaying art and historic artifacts significant to the State of Missouri. The public will be able to tour the office and courtroom that Harry S. Truman utilized as Presiding Judge of Jackson County.
In his 2012 State of the County address, County Executive Mike Sanders stressed, "This building will serve a 21st Century purpose by housing various county departments, so that it, once again, becomes a working courthouse for all of our citizens."
In November the Jackson County Legislature approved a $4.8 million contract to Universal Construction Company of Lenexa, Kansas for the project. In addition to restoring the inside of the building to its 1933 design, improvements to the facility include updated air-conditioning equipment, restroom facilities and mechanical and electrical systems. An elevator will also be installed to allow full public access to all three floors of the courthouse.
"The Truman Courthouse is not only significant to our community, but also to the history of our nation," said Sanders. "This is a generational investment that will honor our past while also putting this space back to work for many more years to come.
"Most importantly, we have carefully planned for this project by saving and designating specific funds over the past two years. Because of this, we will complete this important project without asking our citizens for more tax dollars."
In 2009 emergency renovations to the courthouse entailed tearing down a retaining wall that had allowed rain and the run-off from melting snow to pool around the outside of the national landmark for more than 35 years. Repairs to the foundation were made, and the building was saved. The courthouse grounds were restored to the integrity of their 1933 appearance. That was the year Truman oversaw the construction of a new courthouse in Kansas City, while also remodeling the historic courthouse on Independence Square, which soon after became known as "Truman's Courthouse."