Pulaski County Debates Demolition of Historic Courthouse

A plan introduced by Pulaski County’s head of maintenance suggests moving all county and court functions to an annex and demolishing the historic county courthouse, replacing it with a parking lot.

Pulaski County Courthouse
Pulaski County Courthouse, Winimac (Photo: Lee Lewellen)

Almost Unbelievable

It’s hard to look at the stately Romanesque-style Pulaski County Courthouse and imagine a parking lot in its place. But if a proposal heard by county officials last month is carried out, the county will lose its most prominent landmark, and Indiana will lose one of its historic courthouses.

It’s no secret that the 1895 courthouse needs some work — officials grapple with solutions to space constraints, ADA accessibility, security concerns and the normal things that come with maintaining a large historic building. To add space, the county constructed an annex along with a new jail. Recently, crews installed a new elevator in the courthouse to improve access to all levels.

Pulaski County Courthouse

The courthouse’s interior remains in good shape, with handsome features echoing the building’s grand exterior.

A few years ago, commissioners solicited a proposal to renovate and add on to the courthouse, but deemed it too expensive.

A new plan introduced by Jeff Johnston, the county’s head of maintenance, suggests moving all county and court functions to a proposed addition to the annex and demolishing the historic courthouse, replacing it with a parking lot and landscaping.

Indiana Landmarks has offered to retain the same architectural firm the county has been working with to look at cost-effective strategies for repair, space, security and ADA issues at the historic courthouse.

“Indiana’s historic courthouse stand among the state’s pre-eminent landmarks, and the prospect of losing one in this day and age seems almost unbelievable,” says Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks. “Courthouses are adaptable, and no deficiency should be fatal. We hope county commissioners will work with Indiana Landmarks to find solutions that will meet the county’s needs and at the same time preserve this remarkable landmark.”

Alarmed at the notion of losing their courthouse, Winimac residents have formed a Save the Pulaski County Courthouse group. Members packed the January commission meeting, begging officials to reconsider the demolition. Follow updates, and sign a petition asking commissioners to save the courthouse, on the group’s Facebook page.

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