MADRAS, OR -- One block from the current Jefferson County Courthouse in Madras, sits the original courthouse, now nearly 100 years old. Steve Jansen now owns the building, and is thrilled it received approval to be listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. "The county declared it surplus back in 2013 and put it up on the market for sale and nobody ever bid on it. Back in December 2013 I just threw a lowball offer to purchase it because the next step, it was going out for bid to demo it and I wanted to save it," Jansen tells KBND.
The original courthouse was built in 1917 as the Madras City Hall, but housed county offices and court until 1961, when the current courthouse opened a block away.
He says shortly after he purchased the building in January 2014, he began looking in to ways to preserve its history. But, inclusion on the National Register wasn't easy. "One of the reasons was, there was no history on the building. None of the records, nothing existed, they were all lost over the years. It took quite a bit of research to get as much info on it as we do have." According to Jansen, the courthouse is the second oldest building in the county, behind the original train depot in Metolius, and it is the third building in Jefferson County to make it on the National Register.
He calls his restoration effort an "ongoing act of love" for what is now referred to in Madras as "the Old Courthouse." He hopes to eventually rent out the second-floor courtroom for special events. Work should be completed in time for the building's centennial in 2017. He’s in the process of leasing out first floor office space.
Jansen also owns the original jail that sits in front of the Old Courthouse, but says its history would be lost if he were to renovate the small concrete structure.