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Pima County Historic Courthouse renovation receives state award
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Pima County Historic Courthouse renovation receives state award

  • The courthouse, which opened in 1929, is now home to the University of Arizona's Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum, the Visit Tucson tourism agency, January 8th Memorial, Southern Arizona Heritage & Visitor Center, and county administration offices.
    Paul IngramThe courthouse, which opened in 1929, is now home to the University of Arizona's Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum, the Visit Tucson tourism agency, January 8th Memorial, Southern Arizona Heritage & Visitor Center, and county administration offices.

The renovation of the Pima County Historic Courthouse has been recognized with an American Public Works Association award.

The structure, which underwent a $32 million restoration from 2015 to 2021, received the award from the Arizona chapter of the national professional organization for historical restoration/preservation.

The courthouse, which opened in 1929, is now home to the University of Arizona's Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum, the Visit Tucson tourism agency, January 8th Memorial, Southern Arizona Heritage & Visitor Center, and county administration offices.

Architect Roy Place designed the courthouse, which is considered one of the most outstanding Spanish Colonial Revival buildings in Arizona, Pima County officials said. In 1978, the National Park Service placed it on the National Register of Historic Places, noting its "elegant blue-tiled dome" as the most prominent feature. Today, the mosaic dome serves as the official Pima County logo.

Among the many highlights is the Dillinger Courtroom, which has seen dozens of high-profile cases over the years, including the arraignment of notorious bank robber John Dillinger and his gang.

Pima County staff are "exceptionally pleased" by the award, said Lisa Josker, deputy director of the county's Facilities Management Department. "This also means we can be considered for the national award."

"This is a project really close to our hearts," Josker said. "I don't even know how to contemplate. It would make us all feel even that much prouder and the whole point of this project is that — you know, this building is over 100 years old — and we want it to last 100 years and more. We continue to make it beautiful... I don't know how we could be prouder."

The courthouse restoration was selected from Arizona award entries for projects with budgets ranging from $25-75 million.

Bianca Morales is TucsonSentinel.com’s Cultural Expression and Community Values reporter, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.

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