December 21, 1996 in City

Ceremony Reopens Burned Courthouse

From Staff And Wire Reports

A year ago, an arsonist gutted the Lincoln County Courthouse.

On Friday, citizens celebrated at a “grand reopening” ceremony to mark the close of a $6 million effort to return the 99-year-old building to its former grandeur.

Choirs sang and officials cut a ceremonial ribbon to commemorate the event in this rural town 40 miles west of Spokane. County employees offered tours of the renovated building.

The ceremony took place one day before the anniversary of the fire.

Will Hill, 17, of Davenport, pleaded guilty to setting fire to the courthouse and is serving a prison term of nearly three years. Authorities believe Hill set the building ablaze while he was drunk and angry at his juvenile probation officer.

During the rebuilding, county employees were forced to move to makeshift quarters in the basements of nearby businesses and in trailers.

Insurance is paying for the renovation and equipment replacement.

Architects attempted to retain the building’s original character inside with extensive dark-stained woodwork. Photographs of the original were used to design the woodwork as well as a replica of a rooftop cupola.

Much of the interior has been redesigned and modernized, and fire sprinklers and burglar alarms have been added.

, DataTimes

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