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Historic courthouse reopens for business

Clerk office, traffic division move to Roseville
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn’s historic courthouse opened up its doors again Monday after a five-month closure for an interior facelift. The icon of Old Town welcomed the public to view and work in its newly renovated courtrooms and hallways this week. The courthouse has six courtrooms, which is essentially the same number as before except the rooms were reconfigured, according to J. Richard Couzens, Placer County Superior Court judge. He said the clerk’s office on the top floor was removed and in its place is a non-jury courtroom. The clerk’s office has now moved to the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville, which means members of the public can no longer file documents at the Old Town Auburn courthouse. Also, beginning Monday the court’s traffic division moved to the Roseville center. Couzens said while most criminal cases will be heard at Santucci Center for security reasons, both criminal and civil cases will still take place at the historic courthouse. Couzens was still arranging his office Tuesday, after having to vacate the building in August. He said it’s nice to be back. “This is where Placer County judicial history started,” Couzens said. “I have always enjoyed working in this building, and I’m glad to see it back online serving the public.” Ralph Gibson, Placer County museums program manager, agreed that it’s nice to see more people moving in the hallways. The courthouse museum remained open throughout the renovation. “The courthouse has a more lively feel to it than it had the past few months,” Gibson said. He said the museum recently opened a new exhibit about the history of movies filmed in Placer County. They are also plans to open another exhibit soon in the entrance lobby. “Hopefully, with the news of the courthouse reopening it will draw more people to the museum,” Gibson said. “A lot of people who live in the area have never been here.” The exterior renovations are expected to be complete in about two weeks, according to Nick Turner, regional manager for facility operations for the north central office of the Administrative Offices of the Courts. Turner said crews finished a successful water test Tuesday. He anticipates the bell being installed either Friday or next Monday. After that, removing scaffolding and completing touch up painting will wrap up in about two weeks. “It’s been going smoothly,” Turner said. Turner said production fell behind schedule a few weeks with rain over the December holiday time period, but said the project is still coming in at its $650,000 construction budget. The new interior improvements were done with a “concerted effort” to preserve and enhance the building’s historic look, Couzens said. He said the new carpeting is a richer color and has a design and the walls were repainted different colors to bring out the architectural details of the building. Grunge has been stripped form the tiles to bring out the colors of the floor, Couzens added. The sound systems in the courtrooms have also been updated to help with acoustics. “There’s been quite an effort to bring things up yet keep the historic flavor,” Couzens said. “It’s definitely a building the public can be proud of.” The historic Auburn courthouse will include Departments 1 through 6. It is located at 101 Maple Street, Auburn. Hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday except every second and fourth Wednesday when it is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment.