Posted Aug 12, 2014 10:50 pm CDT
After working for 32 years in a majestic 100-year-old courthouse, Hancock County Commission chairwoman Sistie Hudson was visibly emotional as she mourned the loss of the “grandest courthouse in Georgia” in an early Monday morning fire. Awakened by a phone call just before 3:30 a.m., she said she could see the flames 5 miles away.
Local, state and federal officials have ruled the cause of the fire undetermined, and the Sparta fire chief is awaiting an engineering report to see whether the roofless smoldering brick shell is stable enough to remain standing, according to the Macon Telegraph and 41 NBC.
However, investigators say the building is a total loss, and it appears likely the courthouse will have to be rebuilt from the ground up. Although newer records were stored offsite, many historic legal documents kept at the courthouse were destroyed.
Hudson and others are already looking ahead to a new building. “We’re going to rebuild,” she told the station. “It’ll be the fourth courthouse at this spot, and we will come back.”
State fire marshal’s office spokesman Glenn Allen of the said it appears the fire started on the second floor of the courthouse, the Telegraph reports. Both a courthouse renovation project that was underway and suspicious activity have been ruled out as the cause of the fire, Allen said, but squirrel activity was recently noted in the building.
ABAJournal.com: “Fire destroys historic courthouse and county’s records”