Building keeps future in mind
Calling the courthouse "the most important building in Morgan County," architect Tom Potts unveiled the current plans for a new county government center on Tuesday evening, March 6.
About 50 people attended the public meeting at Berkeley Springs High School cafeteria. Most seemed impressed by the designs put together by Potts, an architect with Silling & Associates of Charleston.
Potts described Berkeley Springs as having a special feel — historic and artistic sides mixed with "a relaxed, rural community."
He said he tried to keep this in mind with his plans, while also considering how to express the dignity of a court building and the modern security needs of government offices.
The West Virginia Supreme Court has already reviewed the plans for courtrooms and court offices.
The 40,000-sq.-ft., three-story building will replace most of the county buildings that were destroyed or badly damaged in the August 8 fire.
Potts said he tried to maintain the quality of the old courthouse, yet look toward the future at the same time.
The new building will cover the area where the courthouse, sheriff's offices, old jail, assessor's office and county commission offices were. Demolition of the old buildings is expected to begin within a month.
The new facility will also use a small part of the parking lot between the courthouse complex and the Magistrate & Family Court building.
All county and court offices except the Morgan County Commission will be housed in the new building. The commissioners plan to take over what is now the Magistrate and Family Court quarters after the court offices move into the courthouse proper.
Access to the new building will be from both Washington and Fairfax Streets. The double entry way will "really kind of claim that corner," Potts said.
The first floor will be a sort of "people's" floor where the public can conduct business with various offices. Security will increase as you go into the judicial areas.
The first floor will be a little higher than in the current building and there will be no basement since it is in the floodplain.
A cupola or clock tower will take the building to a height of 86 1/2 ft. Potts said he would have loved to just plunk down the old tower on the top of the building, but it is simply not possible.
He also said underground parking had been considered, but was not really feasible.
The total cost of the new courthouse was estimated at around $11 million, or about $230 per square foot.