Let there be light

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 9, 2014

The newly lit chandelier in the Covington County Courthouse lobby casts a warm light.

The newly lit chandelier in the Covington County Courthouse lobby casts a warm light.

“Let there be light.”

And after nearly two decades of darkness from the chandelier hanging in the Covington County Courthouse there is now.

And, while it wasn’t quite a decree from the Lord Almighty, it was a project that county maintenance supervisor Kevin Kennedy decided to undertake as soon as the Christmas tree came down last week.

According to the online Encyclopedia of Alabama, the county’s first courthouse burned in 1865, as did its replacements in 1878 and 1895. A brick courthouse was then constructed in 1897 and was in use until 1916, when it was replaced by the current stone and marble structure.

Over the years, age and elements showed on the building. For the last several years, county crews have worked to repair water damage from a leaky roof – moldy ceiling tiles, peeling wallpaper and plaster damage. In 2010, the building underwent several “facelift” projects. A new roof was installed and many cosmetic updates were done inside the building’s lobby, courtrooms and offices. In 2011, the courthouse clock – another fixture that sat dormant for nearly two decades – was repaired.

It was the same situation for the massive six-foot, 18-bulb fixture that has remained dark because of faulty wiring, Kennedy said.

“I talked with Judge Trippy McGuire, who’s a bit of a local history buff, who said he couldn’t ever remember (the chandelier) working, and he’s been here more than 15 years,” Kennedy said. “I asked others in the courthouse who said the same thing.”

Kennedy used the scaffolding purchased during the roof project to reach the fixture.

“As I walk through this beautiful building, I want to fix everything,” he said. “When that tree came down, and it was so cold outside, I said now is the perfect time to see if we can get that chandelier working again. And now, it does.”