Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders announced during a news conference today that the condition of the Historic Jackson County Truman Courthouse warrants officially declaring the landmark building a "public emergency." The public emergency declaration enables the County, under both the Jackson County Charter and Missouri state statute, to free up money from its state-mandated contingency fund to cover costs, in the short-term, of preserving the Truman Courthouse.
An estimated $800,000 is needed to complete the crucial second phase of the Truman Courthouse restoration. County Executive Sanders pointed out that Phase II is a necessity to prevent the building from deteriorating beyond the point of repair.
"Recent engineering reports and further deterioration indicate that we no longer have the luxury of waiting for help to fund the repairs necessary," Sanders said during the news conference, where he was joined by Missouri State Senate Minority Leader Victor Callahan (District 11), State Representative Gary Dusenberg (District 54) and Jackson County Legislator Dennis Waits (3rd District). "If we don't act, we are in danger of effectively losing this historic building."
Mr. Sanders thanked Independence Mayor Don Reimal for his partnership. He said the mayor's work on this project has been essential to keeping the restoration effort moving forward.
In 1972, as part of an urban renewal project, retaining walls were placed around the Truman Courthouse. The very first weekend after those walls were completed, the building suffered its first leak from water seeping into the basement as the walls trapped water around the Courthouse. Removal of those walls, Sanders stressed, is the key component in Phase II as part of saving the building and restoring the Courthouse grounds to their 1933 appearance.
"Over the last 35 years, with every rain or freeze, this slow water infiltration has quietly been chipping away at the very foundation and supports that keep the courthouse standing," Sanders indicated.
Located at 112 West Lexington Avenue on the Independence Square, the Historic Jackson County Truman Courthouse houses President Harry S. Truman’s original office and courtroom from his tenure as Jackson County Presiding Judge (1927– 1934); the Brady Courtroom and the Jackson County Historical Society office and archives. The Truman Courthouse has been on the National Registry of Historic Buildings since 1972.