Jay Firsching, a preservation specialist with ARCHITEXAS, explained the grant's details at a special meeting Tuesday.He
said the county would have to supply at least 15 percent of the cost for renovations to receive the grant, and the state can give up to $6 million toward repairs.
The catch is that the courthouse would be fully remodeled, inside and out, to match its original 1930s architecture.Modern amenities, such as telephone lines, Internet ports, air conditioning and heating would remain; the physical aspects would return to original materials and design.
"We call it rehabilitation; it would look like it did historically, but with all the modern necessities," Firsching
said."Anything you can imagine wanting in a modern courthouse, you can have."He
added that the Texas Historical Commission
would have to approve the design, which might include elements people don't like, but are historically accurate.
"There are aesthetic things they'll want you to do that you're not going to like," he
said."But this is Cadillac work.They're going to do quality work."Firsching
said it would cost Rusk County roughly $2 million to reach the 15 percent mark; the state would supply the rest, up to $6 million, if the county's grant application is approved in January.He
said $2 million is what the county would pay to fix the masonry problems anyway, with or without the grant money.
The entire planning and construction process would take about five years, Firsching
said.The grant operates in two-year cycles; first, the county would receive a planning grant to hire architects and lay out each step for the renovations.Two years later, the county would receive a construction grant to begin the renovation process.Firsching
told commissioners they would have five years to come up with the $2 million, which is due by the end of construction.He
encouraged them to use more than one outlet to fund the project, adding that other counties have used bonds and community referendums to pay for court renovations.
"Be creative in trying to find the money," he