Fundraising Continuing for Courtroom Restoration Project

Feb. 3, 2024 6:15p 

(WGTD)---Fundraising for a project that’s designed to restore the original grandeur of the largest courtroom in the nearly 100-year-old Kenosha County Courthouse is continuing.

Speaking on WGTD’s Morning Show last week, fundraising committee members said they’re optimistic that a June deadline will be met.

Mary Wagner is a retired judge and Frank Martinelli is a project manager for Kenosha County. They recounted how a courthouse air conditioning project in the 1960s led to the installation of a drop-ceiling that obliterated the view of an ornate stained-glass skylight, decorative plaster and an inscription of an Abraham Lincoln quote.

Over the years, there had been talk of reversing the damage.  It heated up about seven years ago, leading Martinelli to take a look for himself. "I knew nothing about it," Martinelli said. "I crawled around in the attic and saw something really odd--it looked like cement. We got a lift and went up 20 feet in the air. We stuck our heads through just one of the drop ceiling panels and we were floored. Then I started doing the research and found out what it truly was."  

The $3.8 million restoration and HVAC rebuilding project is expected to be funded in part by a $675,000 grant from a Janesville-based foundation. That’s if the fundraising committee can come up with matching dollars from other sources. Kenosha County will also foot part of the cost. 

Judge Wagner says the committee appears to be on track, but is still seeking contributions to put them over the top.

More information is available on the county’s website. 

"It warms my heart when I think about that building being built by people who today their kids or grandchildren are lawyers, dentists, doctors and all that sort of thing in this community and they worked so hard to make it a beautiful place for us to dispense justice," Wagner concluded.