Courthouse improvements underway: Exterior grading to channel water away from oft-flooded basement

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Crews are hard at work giving the Wilson County Courthouse a much-needed facelift. And improvements to the nearly 100-year-old building downtown continue to get underway.

New tile, paint and walls have been completed in the courthouse basement. Other areas have been painted, including the ceiling inside the main entrance. Crews have stripped other areas where dilapidated wallpaper hung. Walls will be painted and other upgrades will soon be completed.

In recent weeks, crews have been working outside the courthouse, digging and moving dirt as a part of the grading process, officials say.

Several months ago, county officials said their main concern has been finding a way to divert water from the basement. And they hope the grading will help that.

Over the past year or so, heavy rains and flooding exacerbated programs in the courthouse’s basement area. Water intrusion in the basement caused damage to the floor as well as the walls.

County officials said the grading was higher than the courthouse, which pushed water to flow into the basement and caused significant damage. Once the renovation project is complete, the grading will be lower than the courthouse, allowing the water to property drain away from the building, according to Wilson County Assistant Manager Ron Hunt.

Hunt also said the wheelchair access ramp will be moved slightly to continue allowing for handicapped accessibility while accomplishing the goal of water drainage.

“There is not a specific timeline for completion,” Hunt said. “As with any project, if there is good weather, we hope the process will advance at a good pace.”

Hunt said many stakeholders are working hard to ensure the courthouse remains a timeless landmark for Wilson County.

“We are very proud of our courthouse and continue to make improvements,” Hunt said. “All of this is working toward the goal of a dry and safe courthouse basement while maintaining accessibility to our citizenry. We want to continue enhancements for future generations to enjoy, so they can appreciate its history and significance in Wilson.”

About 12,000 people visit the courthouse each month.