South facade after rehabilitation
North facade detail after rehabilitation
Loggia, view looking South after rehabilitation
View from Southwest after rehabilitation
View from Northwest after rehabilitation
North facade after rehabilitation
Loggia view looking North after rehabilitation
2nd floor corridor after rehabilitation
Courtroom looking North after rehabilitation
Courtroom looking South after rehabilitation
Courtroom detail restored
1st floor corridors after rehabilitation
Client: Okeechobee County
Location: 304 Northwest Second Street Okeechobee, FL
Site: A Mediterranean Revival courthouse originally constructed in 1926 and altered numerous times with additions and modifications that removed or obscured the building’s historic character-defining features.
Program challenge: To restore the building’s historic character while also updating its spaces and systems for use by the County Commission, County Supervisor of Elections, and several county administration offices. Compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Structures was also required.
Solution: Rowe Architects began its work with a thorough assessment to determine what non-original elements of the building could be removed. A 1987 addition that formed an enclosed courtyard and blocked the building’s historic north entrance was eliminated as were other smaller features such as concrete ramps, aluminum windows, carpet, and faux brick tile. Nearly all of the furnishings and some of the finishes in the courtroom – wood paneling, bar railing, the judge’s bench, seating, window shutters and ceiling tiles –were removed. Additionally, walls enclosing the courthouse’s “breezeway” and an exterior elevator tower were removed, as were coverings over the courtroom’s clerestory windows, allowing for more natural light.
With the later additions stripped away, focus was turned to restoring existing historic features and selecting careful replacements for elements that could not be salvaged or were removed over the years. Original terrazzo flooring was restored wherever possible, but on the ground floor where sagging had occurred due to settling, the original slab was removed, replaced, and finished with matching terrazzo tiles. Remaining wood windows were repaired and sealed with storm-resistant glazing, the building’s original stucco exterior was repaired and painted, and the main portico and grand stairway to the courtroom were fully rehabilitated. The courtroom itself was renovated to serve as a public ceremonial courtroom as well as the chamber for the Board of County Commissioners. The building’s office space was updated to meet current needs and accessibility standards, as were toilet rooms, and the building’s HVAC and electrical systems were replaced.
The restoration of this building, one of Okeechobee County’s most beloved historic structures, will allow the structure to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.