Oldham County’s historic courthouse spared demo

Oldham County’s historic courthouse spared demo

The historic day has finally arrived! This article appeared in the Courier Journal on March 22, 2022 to note the moving of the Oldham County Courthouse as part of a new $22.8 million courthouse renovation project. The original location for the Oldham County Courthouse was Westport. The county was officially formed in 1824 and the first courthouse held court in 1828. One year before, in 1827, William Berry Taylor and others put into motion the idea of moving the courthouse to the up-and-coming city of La Grange.  Taylor, a prominent citizen of the county, donated land for the establishment of the courthouse square. The current structure was built in 1874/1875 after a fire destroyed the former courthouse in 1873. A courthouse has been permanently located in La Grange since 1838. For more information, contact Oldham County Tourism office at (502) 222-0056.

Featured photo caption: The Oldham County courthouse in La Grange, Kentucky will be moved 26 feet closer to Highway 146 as part of a project to construct a new judicial center. March 21, 2022. By Pat McDonogh/Courier Journal.

Matthew Glowicki
Louisville Courier Journal

More than 800 tons and nearly 150 years of history are set to move — very slowly — this week in Oldham County.

The county’s courthouse is shifting to accommodate a new, bigger judicial center, which will incorporate the historic brick courthouse.

The big move is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“It’s a fairly slow process, getting it into place,” said John Vaughan, senior vice president of Edwards Moving and Rigging, the company relocating the precious cargo.

It will take days to move the structure more than 100 feet to a temporary location using a hydraulic sliding system, he said.

A new foundation will be laid overlapping where the original courthouse currently stands, after which workers will place the historic building on its new foundation.

Casual observers might not notice the building moving, Vaughan said, but it will in fact be sliding, inch by inch.

“It’s like watching grass grow, or corn,” Vaughan said. “Corn grows a little faster than grass.”

Humor aside, much planning has gone into shifting the structure. The building was lifted 4 feet off its foundation in February ahead of this week’s move.

It’s been encased in a “web of steel,” Vaughan said, to brace it for travel. It’ll move about 24 feet north, then 26 feet to the west then about 110 feet south, he added.  

The historic portion of the courthouse was originally slated for demolition, but after additional public comment, the Oldham County Project Development Board voted to save the building in August 2020, The Oldham Era previously reported.

Instead of razing the historic structure, it will instead be relocated at its current location, 100 W. Main St., to allow for construction of a new two-story judicial center – combining new and old.

Constructed in 1874-1875, the brick Renaissance Revival-influenced courthouse “retains much of its historic and structural integrity,” according to a 2020 assessment by the Kentucky Heritage Council, an agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. It is the second-oldest courthouse in the state, according to the nonprofit group Preservation Kentucky.

In 2018, the Oldham County Fiscal Court approved a $22.8 million courthouse renovation project that was later approved by the legislature, reported The Oldham Era.

Wehr Constructors, the project’s construction manager, called the process of lifting more than 1.6 million pounds and incorporating the historic structure into a new judicial center “a very complex and unique project.”

The Oldham County courthouse in La Grange, Kentucky will be moved 26 feet closer to Highway 146 as part of a project to construct a new judicial center. March 21, 2022. By Pat McDonogh /Courier Journal.    

Construction of the new addition is set to start this summer, according to the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts. Renderings show the addition will be built to complement the design of the historic courthouse.

The project is expected to finish in 2024, according to Wehr.

While construction is underway, courthouse operations have moved to 6822 Central Ave. in Crestwood.

This story may update.

Reporter Matthew Glowicki can be reached at mglowicki@courier-journal.com, 502-582-4000 or on Twitter @mattglo. 


The Oldham County courthouse before the move.

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