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What do you do with an obsolete courthouse? Benton County wants to know

Exterior of Benton County courthouse
Chris Lehman
Benton County says its courthouse won't be demolished after it's no longer being used as a courthouse.

What do you do with a historic courthouse that soon won’t be needed? Benton County is trying to figure that out.

Since 1889, the Benton County Courthouse has been an imposing presence in downtown Corvallis. But county leaders say the building is essentially obsolete and falls far short of modern standards for accessibility and judicial system functionality. So the county put in motion a plan to build a new courthouse on the edge of Corvallis. It's set to open in about two years.

The county isn't planning to tear the old courthouse down. But they still don’t know for sure what to do with it.

An advisory panel has already ruled out commercial or residential use of the building. Many options remain on the table, including "government and civic use, arts, culture and education uses, or a mixed-use combination," according to a recent press release.

The public can weigh in with ideas online through Feb. 15.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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