Ceremonial Courtroom Restoration Project

Within the historic Kenosha County Courthouse lies a hidden gem: The ornamental Ceremonial Courtroom ceiling, covered over during a 1960s-era remodeling. Now you can be part of the process of bringing it back to light.

View the project brochure here.

View Kenosha News coverage of the project here and here.

About the project

Historic view of Ceremonial CourtroomWhile the Ceremonial Courtroom maintains a stately presence, much of its original ornamentation is now obscured by the drop ceiling. 

Above that celling, however, remains a stark reminder of the room’s former grandeur. In the process of installing modern ventilation equipment, great damage was done to the original decorative plaster, but much of it also remains in outstanding shape. 

Exploratory, micro-restoration work that has been conducted proved that a full restoration is possible — should Kenosha County be able to obtain funding from grants, private donations and other sources. 

The proposed restoration project will involve removal of the suspended ceiling as well as all the ductwork, mechanical, plumbing and electrical work. Current view of Ceremonial Courtroom

The new mechanical and fire protection systems will be re-routed to an area above the decorative ceiling. A new electrical lighting system will be installed. 

The art glass laylight will be restored, with LED backlighting provided above. The original historic ceiling and upper wall finishes will be restored. The courtroom walls will be decoratively painted to replicate the original.  

Kenosha County’s objective in completing this project is to restore the Ceremonial Courtroom to its former grandeur, preserving this focal point of the building — as it was originally imagined — for future generations.

Lincoln’s words

A decorative frieze that encircles the room displays a quote from Abraham Lincoln, much of which remains intact: 

“Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country, and never to tolerate their violation by others.” 

This quote was delivered by Lincoln as part of his Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Ill., in January 1838. One of his earliest published speeches, it was given when Lincoln was just 28 years old, 23 years before he became president.

How you can support the project

Restoring Kenosha County’s Ceremonial Courtroom back to its original beauty will not happen without private support. If you’re interested in becoming a partner by making a tax-deductible contribution of any amount, please contact the Office of the County Executive at 262-653-2600 or County.Executive@kenoshacounty.org.  

You or your business/organization can join the Ceremonial Courtroom Wall of Recognition with donations of the following amounts: 

  • $250,000-plus: Supreme Court Level 

  • $25,000-$249,999: Appeals Court Level 

  • $5,000-$24,999: Circuit Court Level 

  • $500-$4,999: Municipal Court Level 

Learn more

For more information about this project, please contact Frank Martinelli, Kenosha County Engineering Projects Manager, at 262-857-1863 or Frank.Martinelli@kenoshacounty.org.