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4/29/2014 6:02:00 AM
What's to become of Mohave County's historic courthouse?
County may move out, build something new
If Mohave County moves out of its historic courthouse in downtown Kingman, will anyone move in? (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)
If Mohave County moves out of its historic courthouse in downtown Kingman, will anyone move in? (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)

Matt Reinig
Miner reporter


KINGMAN - The city of Kingman management is open to discussing taking over the historic Mohave County Courthouse now that the Board of Supervisors has proposed a new downtown building to house county operations.

No talks have taken place yet, added City Manager John Dougherty, either between the city and the countY or among Kingman City Council members. The city would have to wait and see what the Board of Supervisors decide.

"I appreciate the supervisors thinking of us, and thinking we would perhaps have a use for it," said Dougherty. "If they do decide as a group they are interested in seeing if the city is interested ... we could certainly sit down with the county and discuss it."

Last week, state court officials presented the Board of Supervisors with plans for a new, three-story courthouse across the street from the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, where a collection of county records warehouses are located.

The county estimates the 88,00-square-foot building would cost $20 million and take two to three years to build, largely from funds acquired by a quarter-cent sales tax set to expire in 2019.

Supervisors were pressed to extend or make permanent the tax in order to afford the building.

Joshua Noble, Kingman Tourism Director, said the courthouse is one of the more prominent features of the community.

"From a community visitor survey we conducted, we found about 52 percent of our visitors are interested in visiting historic sites, and I know the courthouse is in the top five most photographed features in downtown Kingman," Noble said. "It is an integral part of the downtown Kingman area, and I'd like to see it do something, because it would be a shame to have it sit empty."

Dougherty said if discussions open up between the city and the county, the city would have their grant writer see what federal or state money is available to remodel the building.

"Right now, I just love the building for its historic significance, and it's a really neat building," said Dougherty. "As far as what we would do with it, we would have to sit down or possibly establish a committee to find out what uses we have for it."

Dougherty said city operations are fairly spread out, and in the event the city acquired the courthouse, the city could look at cost-matching, and consolidating or expanding operations at the historic location, such as for library services.

"It would have to be remodeled if we took it over, and I doubt that would be a big deal, but being (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant would be the big sticking point," Dougherty said. "We're not exactly floating in money, so if we could get some help to remodel it there wouldn't be much to taking it over, unless someone came up with an idea for consolidating services."

Ruthie Burford of the Daughters of the Mohave County Pioneers, an organization of families and individuals who have been in the county for 100 years, said their committee members have fought for some time to preserve area buildings with historical value.

"There's been several buildings in town that our committees have been trying to save, some of the older buildings," said Burford. "The people on those committees feel very strongly that things should not be torn down."

Burford said the Daughters, who hold monthly meetings, have not yet openly discussed the county's recent proposals to build a new courthouse.

"I think it should be left as a building, but whether they use it as a courthouse or not I have different views on that," said Burford. "But as a historic building, I think it should be left, but what it should be used for I don't have a clue.

"I think we've been told wrong things in the past about how much it will cost and entail, and I think it could be saved."

County Supervisor Buster Johnson said a new Law and Justice Center became a priority once the sheriff's office was condemned. The county tried to pursue plans to for a comprehensive court system on donated acreage in Golden Valley, but those plans were dismissed by the courts at the time, who said courts in the county seat need to remain there, according to Johnson.

"We said, 'OK, let's fix it up,'" Johnson said about the current courthouse. "Everything fell apart."

That goes as far as plans to fix up the current courthouse, as much as plans to build a new one, according to Johnson.

"They've done maintenance to keep it up, but there has been a history in Mohave County where we don't take care of our buildings," Johnson said. "The maintenance is gone, and I think that's the biggest thing."

The building is already on the registry for historic buildings, Johnson said, and is a building that has housed courtrooms for nearly 100 years.

"We have to have the building anyway ... but we need to have a plan. We don't have a plan," Johnson said. "You just can't tear that building down."

ICT - Hummingbead of Kingman
Related Stories:
• Mohave County looks at new, $20M courthouse


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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014
Article comment by: Donna Pederson

We need to stop closing and abandoning historical buildings in downtown Kingman. When I asked why Palo Christi Elementary School was not renovated and re-opened as we were told when it was "temporarily" closed, Superintendent Jacks merely said that was not the plan. Later a committee was formed to determine how to use it so I guess there wasn't a real plan when it as closed. It was a wonderful, historical school that had a great academic record.

Now the Supervisors want to build a new courthouse without any plan for the existing courthouse. The problems with the existing courthouse have been caused by many “make do” remodeling jobs over decades and lack of maintenance. Arnold Plaza is a perfect example of the cost of neglect.

We’re watching political football. Mention asbestos and remodeling costs, big numbers – so old buildings are abandoned. Are either Palo Christi or the courthouse currently being maintained or improved? Or are they being allowed to slowly decay so “new” is the only answer?

I hope the Kingman District School Board and Board of Supervisors will honor the history and uniqueness of their part in downtown Kingman, Of course, downtown is old but It can be beautiful again if we are willing to take the time and effort to improve and appreciate it.


Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Duff Man

"And it smells like dying animals"

Dying or dead RINO's perhaps?


Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

@2

“As opposed to conservatives of course, and your proof of this assertion is?”

Just look around at Kingman, nothing more need be said.


@DiscoDuck

“Oh and moving it to Havasu?! HAHA lay another one on me because that is hilarious…This is Arizona buddy, not California,”

Okay, BUDDY, what does California have to do with moving the courthouse to Lake Havasu City?

Oh, and BTW, I only posted that to get a rise out of the…well, you know, and it worked. Why in the world would we want the county courthouse in Lake Havasu City? Ugh – you keep it!


@Reactionary

“Anson's Nephew…Then you can build your court house in that new county's seat.”

Read para three under DiscoDuck.


Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Trained observer

The courthouse should be maintained and used as is. If they need more space, the county owns more than one white elephant building that could be used for specific kinds of cases (drugs? divorce? civil suits?) Why do we need to destroy history and spend money we don't have? Make do, use it up, conserve resources.

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: My Reaction

Entire 1st floor council chambers. Floors above offices. Basement storage or additional offices.

Are you kidding - tear down the perfectly good city complex?

Those advocating an amphitheater, form a private group, look at ways to get vacant land donated or buy scrub housing to clear enough land and build your amphitheater. City owned land is at a premium. From what I gather the prevailing attitude in this area is government can't do anything but spend money so build your amphitheater without government involvement.

The main court house should be in the county seat. Golden Valley is in a flood plain. We don't need to put a $20 million building just to have the 100 year flood wipe it out. Those advocating for GV must not have been here in the early 80's when we had our real last monsoon season.

Again the main court house needs to be in the county seat - transporting prisoners, convenience of lawyers and witnesses, bail bonds companies, etc.. The county has done a great job of opening satellite facilities in BHC and LHC and should continue to do so.

Anson's Nephew, organize a drive to break the lower part of Mohave County off. Then you can build your court house in that new county's seat.


Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Disco Stu

This is hilarious. They've been talking about a new courthouse complex for how long now? Meanwhile the building has 20 varieties of mold, no room for jurors to get in and out without walking through the tight halls, the top floors have defendants in chains being paraded up and down the halls ... Every time I walked in there I can't even breathe and it smells like dying animals.

Oh and moving it to Havasu?! HAHA lay another one on me because that is hilarious. Is the County going to pay for all of the public offices to move down there too and make the ones here satellite offices? Or will they pay mileage to all of the county agencies that do business at the courts daily? Didn't they just built a massive jail in Kingman to make transporting defendants easier? I guess someone sees value and savings in transporting them to HAVASU instead of across the street.

Oh no wait, I know! Buster will just buy himself another brand new county vehicle and scrap the whole idea.

Havasu, hahahaaaaa. This is Arizona buddy, not California, but Buster wants soooooo badly to be part of California and to live the Cali lifestyle.

This is all just more talk and no action.


Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Harris

After reading Buster's comments one can only ask, "What is wrong with you doing your job as supervisor? "...Mohave County where we don't take care of our buildings..." Buster, you're a supervisor, one of the longest serving and you are telling us the county (of which you are one of the 5 top officials) and you are telling the public the county don't care for our investments. Have you called the maintenance department head in to discuss this?

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Too Funny

"Liberals would have seen to the proper maintenance of buildings and infrastructure. "

As opposed to conservatives of course, and your proof of this assertion is? or is this just your biased opinion without any basis in fact that only conservatives have no interest in conserving history? Please let's have proof and sources because I know you must have tons of proof that only conservatives do this.



Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Article comment by: Keep It Historic

When I have visitors, one of the first places I take them is to the courthouse and around the downtown area. They always love it.
Please make the best of this beautiful historic area.


Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: It Would Make A Great Downtown Library

Well push me over with a feather. We have a organization that pushes for historic preservation? Daughters of the Mohave County Pioneers - really. I've lived in town for 40 years and this is the first time I heard of this group. Oh that's right they must work behind the scenes. We see how effective they are. Kingman's first hospital listed on the National Historical Registry) - torn down. The Arnold Building (just because you think it's ugly doesn't mean it should be torn down). The old wooden Harley Davidson Building - gone. Beale Hotel - threatened (although understanding the owner has sat on it for over 30 yrs without lifting a finger, the only solution would be to condemn it and bring it down for safety sake).

In any case the Daughters have to get off their petty coats and become a real force in keeping our historic buildings. Who's the president, who are the officers, what are their bylaws? The Miner needs to get a reporter on this. Who knows maybe there are families with less than 100 yrs here willing to be supportive and more active. Ms Burford is correct in questioning some of the numbers thrown around about restoring or remodeling. Her group would serve the groups goals and community well by getting experts to participate in her group and make public their finding.


Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“…this band of Tax & Spend liberals…should be held accountable…for there neglect by allowing County buildings to go into disrepair.”

You are aware that Mohave County and Kingman have been under the control of righties for decades, right? Liberals would have seen to the proper maintenance of buildings and infrastructure.


Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: snosna wehpen

I think moving the courthouse to LHC is a terrible idea. People down there think it is the perfect place except for not having county government there. It would be a shame to deprive them of the one and only thing they "think" they have to complain and whine about.

Of course they have the heat and the California freak show coming over on weekends, but I guess they think those are pluses.


Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

The photo made me curious. I did a search using "courthous in movie back to the future". Looks almost a twin of ours......4 columns, floors, front windows. I first thought someone associated with that movie must have seen ours.

I then searched again using "courthouses like the one in back to the future". They seem to be quite common around the country. 4 columns, many with the same step design, same basic front, same number of windows, floors, and of course a clock.

There are 3 county courthouses in KY alone with the same basic design.

So while the courthouse is old, it is in no way a unique architectural wonder. It is almost like it was cranked out in a factory somewhere. If nothing else, it sure looks like the plans were shared widely. That makes it a local treasure, but not a treasure outside of this county.


Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Move the county courthouse to Lake Havasu City.

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Tammy Tahbo

There are several ideas here I like. Maybe offer a Town Hall Meeting to see what our community thinks. I like Mr. Foster's idea best so far! I had also thought about moving the Museum there or making it the Kingman Museum. Maybe a place to hold weddings and civil events... the photos would be beautiful! I like Mrs. Athen's idea of running information about old-time Kingman, I've done a lot of research into St. Johns 125 year history and I've learned so much about Kingman that needs to be shared! How does a person get on a commission such as this to help research the best avenue to take to restore this beautiful building?

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: L J

Re: Desert Dweller
All the more reason this band of Tax & Spend liberals hiding behind the sign of conservatism should be held accountable to the taxpayers for there neglect by allowing
County buildings to go into disrepair. There spending is excessive and has gone well beyond income. As for the City of Kingman wanting to impose a property tax the fact that sales tax are down is clear evidence people just don't
have the funds let alone pay for a property tax. A good source of tax revenue for both the County & City would be the hospital which from what I understand is exempt why?


Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: JoJo Dancer

You don't just tear down a building like that! It's beautiful and historic and it's one of the things that really makes Kingman unique, what the hell is wrong with you!?

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Just A. Citizen

How about moving the museum in there? The building sure enough looks like a museum. Probably has some secure locations for archives too.

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: desert dweller

to Just a Thought...."tax and spend" republicans? gimme a break, no one in history has spent more than the clown in office right now! NO ONE...and no one has taxed as much...get a grip!!

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Spend Wisely

MAINTAIN the buildings we already have & QUIT building new buildings that raise our taxes or spend tax money that we need for more immediate & more necessary items.

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Article comment by: Mitchell Jantzen

The last thing downtown Kingman needs is another empty shell of a building like Palo Christi elementary school. The Courthouse should remain a courthouse.

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Article comment by: K M

Leave it and stop trying to destroy everything that is historic in Kingman. Leave alone what we have left.

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Cliff Foster:

I love your idea. Who on earth came up with the architecture of the City Complex? Talk about out of place.

But...you forgot my favorite. What is now Municipal Court was our beautiful old library (cor Oak and 4th/red brick) and before that, it was the school. My Dad and family attended there.

There is another house down Oak street going West, two story, also made of the tufa stone so many including the Court House, are made out of and I don't know if it is empty or what. Seems like it was pretty dilapidated looking last time I passed that way. Sad!

Grandpa Anson Smith and first few kids lived there at one time, have a picture of Grandpa sitting in a bedroom there, kids and wife's pics on the wall.

Also was big house across from Elks Lodge, again Cor Oak and 4th where City Hall resides. .

They lived there also, had a big burro in the yard, can see the Elks Hall across the street in pics. My Dad, about 4, rode the burro around the yard with a big pipe in his mouth, no shoes on. Too cute.

I think the Miner needs a section once a week where they print an old Kingman picture, history with it. Maybe even county pic. Many available, fun to see the olden days look here. Also old ranchers pictures.


Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Article comment by: R .

It's a beautiful building and presents well, what a shame to replace it with modern box architecture.

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Article comment by: Downtown Native

Mr. Johnson, I applaud you! You nailed it by saying there's a history of the County not maintaining their busildings. There is a long list of county owned buildings just falling apart and being torn down or left empty for someone else to fix.
I'm glad you admitted it and now hopw you will encorage your fellow supervisors to step up and help save this great old courthouse before it's too late. I doubt the city can take it over and start using it without pouring millions into it but at least they care about our community history more than the county has in the past.



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