Tom Hammer of Rowe Architects Leads Presentation on the Historic Preservation of old Polk County Courthouse

The exterior façade of Polk County History Center after restoration in Bartow, Florida. Source: Rowe Architects Incorporated

(BARTOW, Fla. – January 31, 2015) – Thomas A. Hammer, AIA, Principal at Rowe Architects Incorporated was invited to give a presentation at the old Polk County Courthouse on Saturday. Hammer was the primary architect during the restoration of the courthouse.

His presentation, “Promoting Preservation: National Register of Historic Places, Historic Districts, and Heritage Tourism Marketing” was the third and final presentation in a series. It was also the conclusion of Preservation Celebration Month at the Polk County History Center, formerly called Polk County Courthouse.

Introductions and a presentation on “Heritage Tourism” were by Historic Preservation Manager Myrtice Young. There were more than twenty visitors in attendance, including Polk County Commissioners John Hall and Edwin Smith.

Hammer discussed the National Register of Historic Places, which is a list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. He went into detail about what a listing means, what it does not mean, listing requirements, as well as listing process.

After Hammer’s presentation, there was a tour of the beautifully restored building. Hammer and Commissioner Hall guided the tour together and discussed the history and the restoration of the courthouse. Hall was an employee of the county and held various roles during the restoration.

The courthouse was originally built in 1908. The restoration took place from 1988 to 1996 in four phases: the restoration of the exterior of the building, installation of the HVAC system, restoration of the genealogical library, and restoration of the history museum. The old courthouse is now called the Polk County History Center. It is comprised of both the Historical Museum and Genealogical Library, with free admission to the public.

Hammer was very impressed by how well the building has been maintained. “It looks as good today as it did when we finished the restoration 20 years ago. For John and I, it was a walk down memory lane.” Myrtice Young was so thoroughly impressed by Hammer’s presentation that she invited to come back to present next year.
Hammer participated in a Lunch and Learn at the History Center a week earlier, “Preserving Polk Pride: Researching and Promoting Polk County’s Historic Sites Preservation Celebration Panel”. It was a discussion on restoration projects in Polk and Osceola counties and included a distinguished panel of speakers from both counties. Hammer discussed the history and the process of restoring the courthouse in collaboration with Mark Donald, Facilities Project Engineer at Polk County BoCC, PE. Donald was the director of facilities during the course of the project.
These events were also featured in the recent issue of Art-i-facts magazine, a publication of the Polk Arts Alliance.

For more information about the Polk County Courthouse and additional projects, please visit Rowe Architects’ website at