Manatee Renovates Historic Courthouse, Bradenton

Manatee County recently celebrated the completion of a $2.9 million renovation project on the county's Historic Courthouse.

Funded by Manatee's general fund, improvement work on the 100-year-old courthouse employed nearly 80 local workers, taking about 15 months to complete: The project, which came under budget by by $72,468, involved replacing the building's roof, windows, parapet, cornice and parts of its trademark brick facade.

“Structural deficiencies were mounting at the building -- from cracks in the facade to chipping cornice to leaky roofs -- and were becoming a public safety issue. Postponing these repairs would have only worsened the condition, jeopardizing the future of one of Manatee County's most historic structures,” says Nicholas Azzara, Manatee County government spokesman. “The recent upgrades have not only improved energy efficiencies, but they've also brought the building up to hurricane-resistant standards to ensure that the records of this community are extremely secure.”

Inside of the courthouse, 1,602 light bulbs, 1,177 ballasts and a number of lamps and sockets were replaced with energy-saving components. Since the renovation, energy costs at the building have dropped by more than 50 percent; three years ago, the county was paying approximately $17,000 per month versus the approximately $7,500 paid since the renovation.

“We think the community will take great pride in this renovation,” Azzara says. “It's the site of so many celebrations throughout the year: From events commemorating fallen firemen, policemen and veterans to concerts and festivals on the lawn. These are the kinds of events that weave the community together.”

In 2011, the county used a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to complete a separate improvement project, connecting a new energy-efficient chiller to the Historic Courthouse; new equipment was installed in place of the old, delivering fresh air into the building. According to Azzara, this project has produced savings of approximately $138,000 per year in energy and maintenance costs.

A centerpiece of architecture in downtown Bradenton, the Manatee County Historic Courthouse is currently on the National Register of Historic Places.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Nicholas Azzara, Manatee County
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