CASA GRANDE - The Pinal County Courthouse was built 21 years before Arizona gained statehood, and after a yearlong restoration and modernization project that cost more than $6 million, the historic building in Florence has reopened.
The courthouse now will house the Board of Supervisors and county staff including the clerk of the board, the budget department, internal-auditing staffers and communications, according to the Casa Grande Dispatch.
The old courthouse, completed in 1891, used to include the county Sheriff's Office and the jail on the main level, with the courtroom on the second floor.
"This building is, in fact, the face of Pinal County," supervisors Chairman David Snider said.
The jail held some famous criminals, including Eva Dugan, who was convicted of murder and hanged in February 1930. She still is the only female prisoner ever executed in Arizona.
Renovations included ridding the building of asbestos and aluminum wiring.
The main floor now includes the meeting room where all the board's meetings will be held. It's the same room that was once the jail.
Interior windows at the top of the walls on the left and right sides of the room still have the iron bars from the old jail, as a nod to history.
"They don't make them like that anymore," Supervisor Clark Smithson said of the courthouse.
Supervisor Pete Rios gave credit to County Manager Fritz Behring for suggesting the restoration as an alternative to constructing a new facility.
County resident Ernie Feliz, who was involved in the restoration as the county grants coordinator, has fond memories of the building, dating to when he first entered it at age 5.
He recalled being drawn to the main staircase. Its grandiosity is one of the courthouse's most defining features.
"The courthouse stands out to me as a point of pride for people who live in Florence," Feliz said.