County Courthouse improvement estimated at $563K

Scott Broden, The Daily News Journal, January 27, 2019

Rutherford County Courthouse, circa 1960

Landscapers started the initial work Saturday for an improvement project of the historic Rutherford County Courthouse, Mayor Bill Ketron said.

‘We’re just trying to make the Courthouse what she should be, the beautiful place that everybody respects and kind of one of the gems of our community,’ Ketron said.

Built before the Civil War, the Courthouse in thecenter of Murfreesboro’s downtown Square serves as county seat for County Commission meetings, and provides offices for the mayor, Trustee Teb Batey and others. The exterior grounds attract historical tourists, and many others for music festivals, political rallies and warm-weather farmers’ markets.

The work on the grounds will include crews using chainsaws to remove the holly trees that have grown into the building. The four star magnolias will be trimmed but remain in place by the corners of the building, said Ketron. He also said the county has an initial $37,000 budget for the landscaping work. The mayor also will be asking the County Commission Feb. 14 to appropriate another $525,958 to improve a Courthouse built before the Civil War started.

This work that’s expected to be done by July 22 will include exterior work to remove and replace the walkways made of brick pavers and stone base.

Sycamore tree will get cabling

Rutherford County Assessor of Property took the initiative to measure the girth of the huge Sycamore tree on the east side of Rutherford county’s historic Courthouse. This tree was planted in 1859, and currently measure 16’9″ and height of 90′.

The commission can use revenues from development taxes to fund the Courthouse improvements, County Finance Director Lisa Nolen told the commission’s Property Management Committee Thursday.

The committee supported the project. The commission’s Budget, Finance and Investment Committee will examine the plans during a 5:30 p.m. Feb. 7 meeting in Room 205 of the Courthouse.

The estimated cost for the construction work is $471,029 on the improvement project. Other costs include $38,427 for architecture and engineering design work, $10,000 for civil engineering work and $6,500 for survey work, according to a letter to the mayor from design consultant Bart Kline of Kline Swinney Associates.

Other work includes installation of lighting, cabling to secure the large sycamore tree on the east-side grounds, brick tuck pointing, replacement of downspouts and painting of outer parts of building. The interior work will include installation of sturdier carpeting that replicates the historic look.

The $37,000 budget for landscaping pays the Murfreesboro government to fund the initial services. This part of the project will include the city installing a sewer manhole to improve drainage, Ketron said.

The mayor also touted the planting of a Christmas tree on the Courthouse grounds.

Plans to ‘restore and beautify’ the Courthouse

Future music events such as JazzFest will also set up the stage on the outer circle of the Square, instead of the inner circle, to reduce people trampling on the planned flower beds and other grounds for the Courthouse, Ketron said.

Main Street officials in a group that promotes business and entertainment on the Square support Ketron’s plans.

“We’ve been lockstep with the mayor on his efforts to restore and beautify the inner circle and the historic Courthouse,’ said Brian Robertson, who represents the county on Main Street board and oversees the government’s information technology, television and website services.

‘All the Main Street members seem to have been very pleased with all the announced changes and progress that’s coming, and look forward to adjusting the way we handle events here on the Square to accommodate these changes both logistically and otherwise,’ Robertson said.

The Courthouse sits in the center of business in the middle of downtown Murfreesboro, Ketron said.

‘So we’re going to be sprucing her up, making her look beautiful again,’ Ketron said.

Reach Scott Broden at sbroden@, 615-278-5158 and on Twitter @ScottBroden.

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