The Historic Courthouse Preservation Project
In 2001, Washington County was going to vacate the Old Washington County Courthouse in Salem. William “Bill” Eberle, a retired attorney, spearheaded a group of citizens to take action and make the courthouse a community center. Concerned citizens met with John G. Waite, a renowned preservation architect, who made a presentation about other restoration projects and arranged for the group to visit recently restored buildings. The group held meetings on a regular basis and Bill put in motion the chartering of a not-for-profit with the Education Department of New York State.
In January 2002, the Historic Salem Courthouse Preservation Association, Inc. (HSCPA) officially became a corporation and elected the first Board of Directors. They selected Bill to be the first president of HSCPA.
One of the corporation’s missions, to facilitate the transfer of the courthouse to a Salem entity, was carried out while HSCPA negotiated with county officials. By the end of 2003, the Town, Village, and HSCPA finalized a partnership by signing a Memorandum of Agreement. The Town became the owner of the property on January 1, 2004. The HSCPA took charge of management with the Village in a supportive role. To date, the courthouse has received no funding from Salem taxpayers.
HSCPA has been awarded many grants to underwrite the expense of restoring the courthouse. These include grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, NYS Council on the Arts, Preservation League of NYS, as well as an Environmental Protection fund grant awarded by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.