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Historic jail restoration progressing

The Old Lawrence County Jail at Burlington committee has a consultant and an architect in mind for the project to restore the old county jail. Thursday, committee members asked the Lawrence County Commission to hire Michael Gioulis, a historic preservation specialist, and Daniel Lucas Hart, architect, whose job it will be to develop plans to renovate the old stone structure.

"We definitely wanted someone with experience in stone structures," committee member Dave Milem said. "Dave Michaels at (Ironton-Lawrence County) Community Action Organization suggested Mr. Gioulis because he had worked with him on other projects prior to coming to Lawrence County."

Gioulis told the commission that his first responsibility would be to identify what needs to be done to restore the building, and develop multi-phased plans and cost estimates for accomplishing the project. The first step would be to put a new roof on the building.

"It's really impressive," Gioulis said. "It's a beautiful building and I see the potential it has to bring people to Ironton, Burlington and Lawrence County. When it's restored, it's going to be a gem and a feather in your cap."

Committee treasurer Bob Payne said getting a consultants on board and plans in place are essential to attracting grant money to pay for the restoration work.

"We're trying to pursue grant money from organizations and they want to see plans. They want to know what we're going to do, what we're looking for and how much it will cost," Payne said.

The contract was referred to the Lawrence County Prosecutor for review before the commission signs it.

The old stone jail was built before the Civil War, when Burlington was still the county seat. When the county government was moved to Ironton in 1851, the old buildings at Burlington fell into private hands, changing ownership many times over the next century and a half before being purchased by the county. The old jail is the only one of the county's original government buildings left standing.