The best new building in Palm Beach is 89 years old. And it's been on life support for 13 years. That's how long local preservationists have been struggling to save the 1916 County Courthouse on the corner of Banyan Boulevard and Dixie Highway. The neoclassical building was practically buried in 1972, when it disappeared inside an ugly "New Brutalist" wraparound expansion; Corinthian columns and gewgaws were chipped away, carted off, and in some cases scattered to the four winds (West Palm Judge Marvin Mounts scored the courthouse steps, which he kept in his garden). Still, the original building remained mostly intact beneath it all -- you could spot the old roof if you happened to be an airborne seagull. Last year, the Palm Beach Historical Society and the Palm Beach County Commission -- which kicked in $18.5 million for the project -- finally went ahead with plans for the great striptease: That nasty concrete shell has now been stripped away. The courthouse will be restored, columns, pediments, and all, to house county offices and an 8,000-square-foot History Museum. Stop by and see what the lady looks like in her skivvies. For an old broad, she ain't bad.
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