Bar Weighs in on Courthouse

WINNSBORO (Dec. 22, 2016) – Last week, during its final regular meeting of the year, County Council unanimously selected the architectural firm of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood to design the County’s pending Courthouse project. Four days later, Council members received a letter from the Fairfield County Bar Association requesting that its members be allowed to offer their collective input into any discussions and decisions being made concerning the Courthouse prior to moving forward with any renovation/construction of the project.

“We travel across the state and are familiar with numerous historical Courthouses, as well as newly constructed ones. We are an integral part of the legal system and wish to be involved,” the letter stated.

Former State Senator and attorney Creighton Coleman said he and others in the Fairfield County legal community do not want to see the County build a new Courthouse.

“I would like to see the courtroom, after the renovation of the Courthouse, come back to our current Courthouse,” Coleman told The Voice.

“Ours is, by far, the best Courthouse in the state of South Carolina when you consider the practical nature of the courtroom, the comfort it affords the litigants, the great acoustics and the historical significance of the Courthouse, itself, which was designed by Robert Mills. Some things could be improved a little, but it should not be scuttled. It’s a wonderful courtroom and Courthouse,” Coleman said, “and we should keep it as our Courthouse.”

County Councilman Billy Smith (District 7) said the selection of the firm is just the beginning of the process and that nothing has been decided so far as how to go forward with the project.

“After we come back from the holidays, we will be meeting to lay out the foundation as to what we want the Courthouse project to be,” Smith said. “We will certainly be bringing in and listening to the County’s judges, lawyers and others in the legal community so we can learn their wants, needs and suggestions.”

County Administrator Jason Taylor said he, too, welcomes and wants the Fairfield County Bar Association’s input for the project.

“A project like this is of such importance that we need to spend a great deal of time in the planning of it, gathering as much information from as many sources as we can, so that we get this right,” Taylor said.

Goodwyn Mills and Cawood, of Greenville, is one of three firms who responded to the County’s Request for Qualifications for the Courthouse project. The other two were Alliance and Mead & Hunt.

“This is a firm with a lot of experience with historic projects like this one,” Smith said.