Ashe County 1904 Historic Courthouse

Historic 1904 Ashe County Courthouse Opening Soon

It's not quite time to throw confetti or pop champagne corks, but members of the Museum of Ashe County are feeling the excitement.

All infrastructure work has been completed: wiring, plumbing, and heating/air conditioning - in other words,
everything that is under the floors and behind the walls. All windows have been restored to their original finishes and returned to their places in the courthouse except for the three round windows just below the cupola on the front of the building. These will be soon be replaced with stained glass dating from the early 20th century donated by Jennie Clyde Hightower.

Members are delighted now that the work taking place is visible and they can see the original beauty of the building being uncovered before their eyes. The new phase involves stripping all wood finishes and refinishing them to their original look and re-plastering surfaces that had originally been plastered. Most of the interior doors have been restored and the paneling in the hallways is now in the process of being stripped and refinished.

It has taken MACH a long time to get to this point in the Courthouse project because the project is one of restoration, not remodeling. Every aspect of the work has had to be reviewed by experts in historical restoration to make sure every move meets the standards of historical accuracy. When the restoration is completed, the courthouse will reflect exactly the image of its original look.

One of the experts overseeing the project is John Horton who visited the museum Wednesday, April 15th to inspect the early stages of stripping, refinishing and plastering. Horton is an assistant/consultant to Joe Oppermann, the architect who has been in charge of the restoration since its beginning. Horton is retired from the North Carolina Department of Archives and History and imminently qualified to make judgements on the critical, historical decisions which face every decision in the project. He gave an enthusiastic "thumbs up" to the initial stages of the finish work.

It is too soon to estimate when all work will be completed, but the most optimistic scenario is that MACH will open a few rooms by late summer with artifacts in place. In the near future MACH plans an open house at the Courthouse so the public can share this exciting new phase of restoration.

The temporary museum across the street from the 1904 Courthouse is now open for the season. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. We have received many exciting new artifacts over the winter and welcome new donations and new members. Museum volunteers are welcome. Contact Don Long, Curator, at 846-1904.

Comment on this post!