In 1894, Prince William County moved its court operations from the fourth Prince William County Courthouse in Brentsville, Virginia, to its new Romanesque Revival structure in Manassas. This handsome stone and red brick building embodied many of the architectural ornamentation found in structures of the “Gilded Age”, and was inspired by the architecture of Henry Hobson Richardson of Boston, though was designed by the Norfolk, Virginia, architectural firm of Teague and Marye. The original design of the Courthouse located all court service functions on the first floor, and placed the grand Courtroom and Judge’s Chambers on the second floor. In the 1950s, the Courtroom was “modernized” by rearranging the floor plan and many unique late-1800 architectural elements, such as the pressed tin ceiling, light fixtures, East facing windows, and beaded board wainscot were either lost or concealed. In 1984, the building was abandoned as the entire Courthouse and its operations were moved to a new facility.
Prince William County decided to rehabilitate this historic structure after 15 years of abandonment in the need of additional offices. It was decided that the Public Service Division of the Clerk of the Court needed additional office space for its Probate Division and Court Services.
Our exterior work included the selective pointing of brick and stone masonry, conservation and patching of the sandstone steps, design of accessible entrances at both the front, rear, and side of the structure, and reinsertion of the second floor eastern courtroom windows, which had been removed and whose openings had been blocked off in 1950s.
The interior restoration took the historic spaces back to their original configuration and character. Original paint finishes were determined and applied to the rehabilitated interiors. Historic doors, trim, wainscot, chair rails, and other decorative elements that were removed in the 1950s were faithfully replicated and installed. A double-sided three-stop interior elevator connects the two interior floors with the exterior side entrance – allowing wheelchair access to all floors.
The highlight of the interior is the restoration of the historic courtroom. We rehabilitated the original tin ceiling with its coved cornice, repaired or replaced the historic woodwork and doors, and researched historic light fixtures appropriate to the period. Furthermore, all heating and air conditioning grilles were fabricated from cast iron, replicating the historic turn-of-the-century heating systems.