Hancock County officials will soon have temporary office space after the county’s historic courthouse was gutted by fire earlier this week.
All county business is at a standstill after Monday’s early morning fire. County’s commissioners agreed wednesday to lease space from Oconee Fall Line Technical College’s branch in Sparta for $1 a year. County commission chairman Sistie Hudson said phone and data lines will need to be added before the offices are up and running.
People who have to pay bills may get a grace period during the transition, and employees will still be paid.
State authorities said Monday’s fire caused about $5.5 million in damage to the courthouse, which is listed on the national register of historic places. The cause of the fire is undetermined and no evidence of foul play was found. The insurance adjustor/agent told the county Tuesday the building was covered at full replacement value.
In the 1950s, the brick facade was covered in a new layer of brick that helped insure “Her Majesty’s” walls remained structurally sound. Hudson said a structural engineer has looked at the walls and thinks they will be okay. She adds that the plan is to rebuild the courthouse using the walls, and to make it look as close to the old building as possible, which could take two to three years.
As soon as what remains of the building cools off, a historic emergency response team from the georgia state archives will come to see what they can salvage. Hudson said it doesn’t look like too much is left. Items had been stored in the courthouse vault, but both doors were left open over the weekend.