Cass County commissioners hear presentation on historic courthouse

CASSOPOLIS — A plan for the Cass County Historic Courthouse may be moving forward soon.

Thursday evening, Cass County Commissions heard a presentation from Intersect Studio out of Kalamazoo about plans to transform the courthouse into a county administration building.

“We are really happy to be here,” said Bill LaDitka, principal architect with Intersect Studio. “This is an incredible building with a great history. … We are excited to dig in and learn much more.”

The Cass County courthouse was originally constructed in 1898 and modernized in 1974. The courthouse annex, which is where Cass County administration works out of today, was built in 1971. The courthouse was vacated in 2003 after the new Cass County Law and Courts building opened.

After years of discussion and planning, the county board of commissioners voted in 2019 that the courthouse be renovated into a county administration center. Since then, a Historic Courthouse Committee has been working behind the scenes.

During Thursday’s presentation, Intersect Studio showed commissioners what the courthouse’s future as an administrative building could look like.

Among the list of recommendations were security areas, modernized workspaces that would promote both collaboration and flexibility, and wayfinding signs to help residents find the department they are looking for.

“Your workspace has to work for you,” said Marissa LaDitka, principal designer.

Though Intersect imagines a modern feel for the workspace, Bill LaDitka said the design firm would honor and respect the building’s cultural and historical impact during renovations.

“These older buildings are amazing in how we approach them and continue to tell their story and the community’s story over time, but also bring new stories to them and make them work for today,” he said. “These buildings are an asset for you and the community.”

“This is an opportunity to make history,” Marissa LaDitka added.

If the board approves Intersect’s final contract, the process could take a year, Bill LaDitka said.

Commissioners said a workshop would be scheduled to finalize the project contract, which would then be presented to the board of commissioners.

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