Design Changes Delay Hancock County Courthouse Renovation Work

It's one of the most recognized historic buildings in Hancock County. Built in 1910, for just $25,000, the Hancock County Courthouse is a symbol of pride and fond memories.

"The courthouse is the heart and soul of downtown Bay St. Louis and of the city and county," Circuit Clerk Pam Metzler said. "It just means a lot to me and to everybody, and it just can't continue to sit there and deteriorate."

But two years after Katrina, plywood still covers doors and windows.

Edward Wikoff is one of the architects working on the restoration and expansion project.

"There's never been a question as to whether or not this building would be restored," Wikoff said. "The addition will roughly double the size of the original building, so you're looking at, in the end, about 16,000 square feet of space."

But the current expansion plan calls for demolishing this area in the back, which was added on in the 1930s. The structure once served as the Hancock County Jail, and the State Department of Archives and History wants it saved.

"So the desire of Archives and History to keep that building there has caused us to revisit some issues with the design and has caused some minor delays in terms of the progress," Wikoff said.

Wikoff said incorporating the old jail into the expansion would take a minimum of six months to design and get approval from county leaders and historians.

County leaders have scheduled a meeting with the Department of Archives and History next week to discuss their options in hopes of preventing any further delays.