LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. — Work continues to rebuild and restore the historic Loudon County Courthouse more than three years after a fire nearly destroyed the more than 150-year-old structure.
A fire engulfed the upper floor of the courthouse on the evening of April 23, 2019, destroying the second floor along with the roof and attic. The fire and water damage was extensive, but the county has been resolved to rebuild the structure.
More than three years after the fire, work continues on the courthouse behind a chainlink fence. The county wants to restore the courthouse to its original look -- but Mayor Buddy Bradshaw said it's going to take at least another year or more before it can reopen.
"We have folks on site and they're actually working on the inside masonry. The aspect of that is we're not gonna put plaster back on the walls. The walls are going to be exposed brick, and so we're excited about how beautiful that's going to look," Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw said the county is hoping to reoccupy the courthouse by January 2024. He said the county is still working through negotiations with insurance, contractors, engineers and architects -- saying it has been a long process.
"You know, this has been such an incredible process. Long and drawn out... Everybody that has been involved, hats off to my folks under my umbrella because they have really worked their tails off to get where we're at," he said. "But at the same time, I think that when it's all said and done she's gonna be beautiful again."
Bradshaw said crews are going to rebuild the courthouse with better rooms for judges and juries, as well as additions that will separate inmates from witnesses and the general public. He said the county is also in the process of creating a separate space at the Loudon County Public Library for historical documents where people can go in and view those.
The county was unable to determine what exactly started the 2019 fire but said it suspects it was likely an electrical issue.