Davidson County has been recognized for a project that improved the appearance of Main Street in Lexington and brought a historic building back to its former glory.

On March 15, Uptown Lexington and Davidson County received the best public building improvement award of merit during the annual North Carolina Main Street conference in Shelby for the rehabilitation of the Old Davidson County Court House in 2015.

Davidson County Commissioner Fred McClure, who was present to receive the award, said he was honored to represent the county for the Old Davidson County Court House rehabilitation project.

“It makes us feel good,” McClure said. “We put a lot of money into the project. … Very few county commissions receive Main Street awards."

Rebecca Cansler McGee, executive director of Uptown Lexington, said the organization is extremely proud to have received this award in the design category.

“The county commissioners were our Main Street Champions last year, but this is a much bigger deal,” McGee said. “This nomination goes before a panel of judges and it has to meet the historical requirements of the Secretary of Interior. This is a very big deal.”

The North Carolina Main Street program helps small towns preserve their historic fabric. Local resources help participants build on their community’s unique characteristics to create vibrant central business districts. This year’s award winners were chosen by a panel of independent judges from dozens of applications submitted by Main Street participants throughout the state.

Work on the old courthouse began in 2013. The project included a complete overhaul of the exterior of the building to remove asbestos, replacing the foundation under existing steps and make repairs to the building's cornices, porch and entrance, as well as removing lead paint and replacing the gutters and downspouts. The cost for the project was $963,453.

McClure said at the time there were many who were concerned not only with the scope of the project but the expense. He said that it is nice to receive accolades in recognition of the project.

“It was a considerable project to undertake on our part,” McClure said. “It was a difficult decision. We could have refurbished the courthouse for a lot less money, but we decided to take it back to its historical roots. It is nice to get an “attaboy” for a project that was that so big.”

McGee said she is especially proud to receive this award because Uptown Lexington has been making concerted efforts to increase its presence as well as its purpose in the district.

“We went through a rough patch and lost our accreditation few years back,” McGee said. “Now here we are two years later, and our community has received a very prestigious award in a category that has a very high standard.”

She said this was a project that required the partnership of many different organizations, but most especially the dedication of the Davidson County Commissioners.

“I am very proud of the hard work that everyone has put in,” McGee said. “This took the commissioners, our board, the city council and the other merchants. Not only were (the commissioners) committed to restoring the courthouse and making it a better, they were committed to doing it and following the standards for historic rehabilitation.”

Sharon Myers can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 228, or at sharon.myers@the-dispatch.com. Follow Sharon on Twitter: @LexDisptachSM