The more than 120-year-old Algiers Courthouse needed a bit more than a facelift when its $1.38 million renovation began last year.
When the effort kicked off in April, saplings had taken hold in the building’s roof, which was so broken that water came through not in leaks but in floods, Judge E. “Teena” Anderson-Trahan said.
Within the building, those seeking to settle low-stakes legal matters and couples hoping to be married had do so amid moldy walls, constantly flaking plaster, and a heating and air conditioning system that was far from reliable.
And — though it wouldn’t be discovered until during construction — the wall directly behind Anderson-Trahan’s bench contained a hole filled with dead pigeons.
But those problems are now in the past, Anderson-Trahan said Thursday after officials cut the ribbon on the restored courthouse.
A new slate roof now tops the building, which was constructed in 1896 and is one of the oldest continually operating courthouses in the state. The air conditioning has been fixed, the moldy walls and ceilings have been repaired, and a fresh coat of paint and waterproofing have brightened the dingy exterior.
“We’re excited because of all the services this courthouse provides,” Anderson-Trahan said. “We’re grateful for the renovations.”
The Moorish-style courthouse that houses New Orleans’ 2nd City Court is home to Anderson-Trahan’s courtroom, where she hears small claims cases, lawsuits and eviction proceedings along with providing marriage licenses and wedding ceremonies. It also contains the offices of Clerk of Court Darren Lombard and Constable Edwin Shorty Jr.
Linfield, Hunter and Junius Inc. served as the architects on the project; Dynamic Construction was the general contractor.
The renovations, paid for with FEMA public assistance funding, were the first work the city has done to the building since the mid-1980s, though the nonprofit Friends of the Algiers Courthouse group has done some sprucing up since then.
“The historic Algiers Courthouse has been a pillar for the West Bank. For over a century, it has served as a focal point of the Algiers community,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “This renovation shows our commitment to Algiers, and we look forward to continuing to invest in the community.”
Don Costello, president of the Algiers Historical Society, said he personally reviewed the plans before work began and gave them the “thumbs up.” On Thursday, he praised the finished work.
The renovations “have preserved the courthouse for Algiers and the city of New Orleans,” he said.