YOUNGSTOWN — The completion approximately two years ago of a $6 million renovation to the Mahoning County Courthouse will be celebrated with a 10 a.m. ceremony Aug. 23 at the courthouse.
A key element of the event will be the placement of a new time capsule in the cornerstone of the building, replacing the one that was removed in 2011, before the renovation project began. Content is entrusted to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.
Commissioners Chair Carol Rimedio-Righetti said the event “will allow Mahoning County residents to see the great courthouse that we have, the restoration project that we started many years ago – and put the materials in the time capsule”.
She said that after the time capsule is set up, everyone will be invited inside for a tour and refreshments. She said the plan is to open this time capsule in 100 years.
“Of course we won’t be there, but our ancestors will be. It will be something very comforting for them to see documents or an article about someone they are related to or about the commissioners,” she said.
Rimedio-Righetti said the final selections to be included in the time capsule have yet to be finalized, but Bill Lawson, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, is helping with the process.
Lawson gave The Vindicator last week the contents of the previous time capsule. It contained such items as newspapers from Youngstown, a copy of the program for the laying of the cornerstone on June 11, 1908, and a small block of marble provided by the company that supplied the building materials for the courthouse. It bore the names of the architects of the building, the contractor and the members of the construction committee.
Perhaps one of the most surprising things about the capsule was that it only contained one photo – of children from Glenwood Children’s Home on Millet Avenue, the ancestor of today’s Mahoning County Children’s Services Board. . A children’s home was like an orphanage.
Another thing that Lawson found surprising was that the marble block had deteriorated in the time capsule because it reacted to copper or zinc from the time capsule box. Lawson said he believed the people who placed the time capsule didn’t know the marble would react to the copper box.
“When we pulled it out in 2011, that’s the condition it was in, and as you can see it’s still losing material here, so we have to be very careful,” he said. .
Rimedio-Righetti said there was a chance someone from the public could still submit something to place in the new time capsule, so they could contact the commissioners’ office if they have an interest.
“Isn’t it beautiful,” Rimedio-Righetti said of the courthouse last week as he was pictured near the building’s cornerstone. “The entire interior renovation project is just beautiful. I would put our courthouse with anyone in the United States. If only the walls could talk,” she said of the story.
The placement of the time capsule was supposed to take place about a year ago, but the fabrication of a plate for the cornerstone and some delays in obtaining the materials for the time capsule have delayed the project, Rimedio said. -Righetti. COVID-19 also delayed the ceremony.
“I hope everyone in Mahoning County, or you might be from anywhere, will be with us that day. It will be a great experience,” she said.
Rimedio-Righetti expressed hope last year that a re-enactment could be performed from a 1908 parade on West Federal Street to the current courthouse when the cornerstone of the current courthouse was placed. But she said last week that major road construction downtown would have made that difficult.
Lawson made a presentation to commissioners last year to commemorate Mahoning County’s 175th anniversary. It included photos of the huge crowd of people who lined West Federal Street for the parade and other activities associated with the laying of the cornerstone in 1908. The building was officially opened in March 1911, “and was the seat of Mahoning County government and courts ever since,” Lawson said.
Some of the renovations carried out include a new roof and downspouts, exterior cleaning and restoration, replacement of exterior light fixtures with LED lights, new lighting that illuminates the courthouse from the ground, repair of statues copper on the roof, replacing parts of the molded clay brick – known as terracotta – on the building and replacing the netting to keep birds away from the structure.
The lighting upgrades were done with the aim of making the courthouse a nighttime attraction for downtown, the commissioners said. “We thought this would be a hell of a way to showcase our courthouse,” Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said in 2019 when the work was completed.
Rimedio-Righetti said the work was done to preserve “one of the oldest buildings in Youngstown and Mahoning County, restore it to its original appearance and make Mahoning County proud.”
A 1907 article in the Youngstown Vindicator discussed plans for the new courthouse, which replaced a smaller one across the street at Wick Avenue and East Wood Street that was built in 1876. It replaced the first courthouse in the Canfield County, which was completed in 1848, a year after the first Mahoning County Fair.
The 1907 article said of the new building: “It was the aim of the architects to make a building which would meet the needs of the community for decades to come, a building which would be strong and substantial and at the same time beautiful.”
The article described one of the highlights of the structure: “On entering the building, one finds oneself in a rotunda reaching the top of the building and ending in a dome invisible from the outside. Wide stairways lead to the right and left of the rotunda, and there are open spaces beyond the stairs, which, like the rotunda, are open to the top, bringing an abundance of light into the building.