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  • Old Courthouse will get new "old" look

    Jan 12, 2017 | Read More News
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    original exterior paintThe iconic Old Pima County Courthouse will soon get a new paint job to match the shade its architect, designer, and owner selected when it was built in 1929. 

    A county contractor uncovered the original paint color during rehabilitation work. Samples taken from the walls show the only other color beneath the original adobe-colored paint was an off-white, which was presumably the primer. 

    “In the spirit of restoration, we have decided to bring it back to the 1929 intention,” said Linda Mayro, director of the Pima County Office of Sustainability and Conservation

    The building, constructed in 1929, cost $300,000.

    The County hired Poster Frost Mirto, an architecture firm specializing in historic preservation, to oversee the restoration of the Old Courthouse, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Mayro and Pima County’s Facilities Management have worked closely with the principal architect throughout the project to ensure the Courthouse maintains its historic value by adhering to The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for restoration.
    Pima County officials requested architects and others, including Dunn-Edwards Paint, which has manufactured the “Old Pima Pink” color on the Old Courthouse for many years, to recreate the original 1929 earth tone similar to adobe. 

    The general consensus of the restoration team is that the exterior Courthouse color evolved to the “Old Pima Pink” shade due to fading of the original paint’s red and yellow sub tones. Painters later matched paint to the faded color rather than the original making the building pinker with each new coat.

    Pima County domeMayro presented the exterior color as the project’s most “pronounced visual change” during the Jan. 11 Tucson–Pima County Historical Commission meeting. While the members of the commission did not cast a vote, everyone expressed unanimous support to repaint the Courthouse and several said they liked the 1929 color better. 

    “It’s really unusual for a government entity to take such care with their historic buildings, and we commend the County for their preservation efforts,” said Terry Majewski, Historical Commission chair. “The County will be restoring the exterior of the building to its appearance in 1929, the year the courthouse was completed. Even details such as original paint color are important, as they contribute to the historic character of this highly significant building as it was originally designed by prominent architect Roy Place.”

    Since work began on the Old Courthouse, contractors have found several historic elements in need of repair, including the lantern on top of the dome, which has several dents; hidden water leaks; broken tile; and delaminating of a section of the dome’s top coat. They also found evidence that the Dillinger Courtroom was originally larger than currently shown, and it will be restored to its original dimensions. 

    The County is using leftover funds from several different projects completed under budget to fund the improvements to the Old Courthouse. The exterior restoration phase, which includes the updated paint color, is expected to wrap up in April or May. 

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