The sounds of “Amazing Grace” and “Beautiful Dreamer” filled the streets of downtown Pittsboro Saturday, as the bell tower in the New Chatham County Courthouse rang for the first time, announcing the Grand Reopening of the beloved landmark.
PITTSBORO – Chatham County Board of Commissioners chair Walter Petty says the three year wait to reopen the historic courthouse was well worth it.
“It was a tragic loss,” Petty says. “To see it rebuilt and restored to this magnitude has just been absolutely phenomenal. I’m so proud of the work that went into it and so proud of the outcome.”
The traffic circle in Pittsboro is once again complete. The Courthouse will host County Commissioner meetings in its courtroom on the upper level; some lower-security cases may also be heard in that courtroom. The Historical Association has displays on the lower level presenting some of the history of Chatham County.
A video tribute was presented during the re-dedication ceremony on Saturday in which many people expressed that the courthouse is not only a place where judicial and other business is conducted, but an important part of the community.
Orange and Chatham County District Attorney Jim Woodall says to some it stretches even further than that.
“I think it’s been a symbol in North Carolina,” Woodall says. “I know people all over the State who talk about going through Pittsboro and circling around the Courthouse.”
And he says a lot was lost that March 25, 2010.
“It’s also really significant for the court community, because not only did we have offices here—my office burned here in 2010—(but) what coming to work in Chatham County meant for us was coming to the ‘Courthouse in the Circle’,” Woodall says. “We love the new judicial center, but this is always going to be the Chatham County Courthouse where we stand today.”
Orange and Chatham County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour told those in attendance that he was happy to see a place where community congregation was made possible. He was in Boston for the Marathon and on his way out of town when the bombs went off. In an emotional portion of his speech on Saturday—when he said afterwards that he was thinking of his family when his emotions got the best of him—he told everyone not to be afraid to meet in large groups and not to let the actions of that tragedy get in the way of living.
He says the completion of the courthouse gives a sense of completion the entire town and county.
“It’s a great day for Chatham County, no doubt,” Judge Baddour says. “You see the people here; you hear what they’re saying; and this place just means so much to so many.”