Renovation of historic Clark County building will be ‘gut job’

Clark County has put out requests for architectural bids to renovate the inside of the A.B. Graham building. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF
Clark County has put out requests for architectural bids to renovate the inside of the A.B. Graham building. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

The renovation of the interior of the A.B. Graham building in downtown Springfield will be a ‘gut job,’ according to Clark County officials.

“We’ve been putting band aids on issues for a long time,” said Clark County commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt. “It’s time for us to do something fairly drastic here.”

Flax Wilt said there are issues with out-of-date electrical and HVAC systems, inefficient storage and an overall lack of modernity that people expect to see in the workplace.

“We really need to start in the walls,” said Flax Wilt. “We’re going to create a lot of dust and disruption.”

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The over 100-year-old building has previously undergone an exterior renovation that included replacing windows and roof repair — but now it’s time to move inside.

Flax Wilt said the county has put out requests for proposals for architectural bids for the project. County officials will then take a bid number and go to bond.

She estimates the project could cost up to $5 million and take as long as two years to complete.

The A.B. Graham building houses the offices of the Clark County Auditor, Clark County Treasurer and the Clark County Recorder, as well as some Domestic Relations courts.

During the renovation, the nearly 75 employees who work in the building will be moved to a temporary location — which hasn’t been determined yet.

Flax Wilt said the county has spoken with every elected official who works in the A.B. Graham building to get their opinions on the renovation.

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“While we aren’t the ones necessarily working in this building,” she said. “We need to make sure the employees and the elected officials who operate here have input in the process.”

Bonnie Sakaitis has worked in the county recorder’s office for seven years.

In the office there are shelves of 35-pound books containing deeds. The only way up? A flight of stairs. She’s hoping for a better method of storage.

“Title searchers have to go up the stairs to get some of the books when they’re looking for older deeds – at times that could be slippery,” she said. “They have been dropped up there. It’s a safety issue.”

She feels the inside of the building deserves a makeover to match the outside.

“The building when you first approach it – coming in in the morning – it could be one of the prettiest buildings in Clark County,” Sakaitis said.

The building has many historic architectural details that Flax Wilt said will be salvaged during the remodel.

The youth leadership club, 4-H was founded at the beginning of the 20th century by A.B. Graham, for whom the building shares its name.

“We need to maintain this beautiful architecture,” she said. “The brass rails, the marble on the walls, the beautiful woodwork — but at the same time, we have to make it functional in a modern society.”