Private funds solicited

Published 9:52 am Friday, February 22, 2013

GATESVILLE – The effort to solicit funds to restore Gates County’s historic courthouse is officially under way.

Last week, county officials along with the Gates County Chamber of Commerce sent out letters seeking support for the multi million dollar restoration project. The county is also exploring what types of grants may be available to assist in the endeavor.

The Old Courthouse Advisory Committee was formed last year and has met on several occasions in an effort to generate interest, support, ways, means, and funds to restore the late Federal style courthouse, completed in 1836. The building is showing its age with cracks to the foundation as well as work needed inside. It is one of a small number of ante-bellum courthouses remaining in the state and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Individuals, businesses, churches and organizations wishing to be part of this momentous renovation project are asked to please contact Jon Mendenhall (County Manager) or Diane Hendrix (Clerk to the Board of Commissioners) at 252-357-1240 for more information; email: or

Additionally, there is an application of interest on the County’s website: That brief questionnaire asks in what way the applicant would like to help, whether through a donation of funds or volunteering to assist in the renovation.

Financial donations to the “Gates County Old Courthouse Restoration Fund” can be submitted to the Gates County Finance Director, P.O. Box 148, 200 Court St., Gatesville, NC 27938.  All donations to the Old Courthouse Restoration Fund are tax deductible. Donations by credit cards are also accepted.

Gates County’s old courthouse, located on Main Street in Gatesville, was the center of County Government during the Civil War and continued to be used until 1983 when the new courthouse was constructed. Since the 1990’s, the old courthouse has been used as the County’s Public Library, Historical Museum, and an overflow provision to hold court when the new courthouse is unavailable. The Gates County Public Library vacated the building in February 2013 because a new library has been built for the county.

An effort was formally launched last year by the County Commissioners and concerned citizens to restore the old courthouse, but it must be done in accordance with the Historic Preservation Society’s requirements and guidelines.

The old courthouse is rich in history. It has a unique two-story floor plan and multiple spaces that lends itself to multiple uses, and it is full of historical artifacts.  These attributes make the old courthouse ideal for serving as a museum, community college satellite campus, rental office spaces, senior center, gift shop, wedding chapel, cultural arts center, and a host of other distinctive potential uses.

ClearScapes Architects of Raleigh is under contract by the county to handle the old courthouse project.

Phase one of the old courthouse project comes with a $33,800 fee by ClearScapes, a price that includes  determining the existing conditions of the building, a structural assessment and studies related to potential new uses and summarizing potential funding sources.

Phase two ($36,200 fee) details the selection of the re-use, schematic design, tax credit/grant applications and documents and administration for structural repairs. The final phase is the actual repairs to the building. That repair/construction phase is estimated in the $2.5 million range. The total project budget is in the range of $2.75 million to $3.2 million.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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