1978 Courthouse Under Historic Review

Published by info@preservationdurham.org on

Why is the 1978 Courthouse Building Under Historic Review?
Durham County Courthouse (1978).  Photo Source:  opendurham.org
The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is currently grappling with the County’s proposed changes to the 1978 courthouse, located at the north east corner of Main and Mangum Streets.  Though not yet 50 years old, and therefore not “historic” per national standards, the building is within the boundaries of the downtown historic district, an area over which the HPC has approval authority.
Click here to read the Herald Sun article on the December 1st HPC hearing that discussed the project and here to read Bull City Rising’s piece on the County;s proposal.
We’ll be following up in the next few weeks with our thoughts on the proposed changes to the structure, the merits of the existing building, and our thoughts on the County’s strategy to get their proposed changes approved.  For now, however, we’ll start by unequivocally weighing in on one question:
Why should we even care about the future of a building constructed in 1978 and why the HPC should have a say in it’s future?  
A local historic district is just that – an entire contiguous district that is comprised of every streetscape, every vista, and every building of every architectural style and age – even the ones built in 1978, and even the ones we might not personally like. This huge structure that served as our courthouse for more than 40 years is inarguably a part of the historic fabric of our downtown, and its disposition does affect all the other buildings and streets around it. It is well within the purview of the HPC to consider the impact of any demolition, major alterations, or new construction anywhere within the district.