published Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Courthouse turning 100: Hamilton County to host centennial celebration

Hamilton County public relations manager Gina Hatler, who is organizing the Hamilton County Courthouse's Centennial Celebration, stands on the fourth floor beneath the courthouse's domed skylight Wednesday in Chattanooga. The courthouse's centennial celebration will take place on Saturday on the courthouse lawn.
Hamilton County public relations manager Gina Hatler, who is organizing the Hamilton County Courthouse's Centennial Celebration, stands on the fourth floor beneath the courthouse's domed skylight Wednesday in Chattanooga. The courthouse's centennial celebration will take place on Saturday on the courthouse lawn.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

IF YOU GO

Schedule of events for Saturday's Hamilton County Courthouse Centennial Celebration:

• 6:30 p.m. -- Children's area opens and games begin

• 7 p.m. -- The show starts with the introduction of historic re-enactors

• 7:10 p.m. -- Music from Sweet Georgia Sound, an 18-member big band

• 8 p.m. -- Read 20 reading of "The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth"

• 8:15 p.m. -- Music resumes

• 9:20 p.m. -- Laser light show begins

Times approximate based on length of performances.

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What began as a loose, unbudgeted plan to commemorate the Hamilton County Courthouse's centennial has turned into a full-blown, 100-year birthday bash.

There will be lasers, there will be music and there will be carnival food. Add to that a healthy heap of children's activities and historical re-enactors and you almost have an idea of what the centennial will be about, said Gina Hatler, public relations manager for Hamilton County.

The celebration will be held Saturday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on the courthouse lawn at 625 Georgia Ave.

Since taking on the project, Hatler has been part event planner and part decorator, but mostly historian.

"The more I dug into it ... you really get an idea of the relation of this building and the development of Chattanooga," Hatler said.

One historic tidbit Hatler was surprised to learn was courthouse's 1913 price tag.

"It cost $350,000 to build. They kind of sweated that back then. The courthouse before this one on this site cost $60,000," Hatler said.

The previous courthouse burned after being struck by lightning. Foundations for the current courthouse were laid in 1912, and the building was completed a year later.

Mayor Jim Coppinger says he hopes to see the courthouse lawn covered with picnic blankets.

"Obviously, the taxpayers have paid for this structure for the past 100 years, and we want the public to come out and enjoy the festivities," Coppinger said. "It's a time for us to remember what makes the county government run, and that's the taxpayers."

Residents are encouraged to bring blankets for a "picnic style" event, Hatler said. Several food vendors will be at the event. Residents who wish to bring folding chairs are welcome, but Hatler said they must stay on paved areas to protect the courthouse lawn. Parking on the street and at garages adjacent to the courthouse will be free, she said.

Originally, the event was unbudgeted, but Hatler said much of it was picked up by the Hamilton County Parks & Recreation Department. Other preparation work came from volunteers made up of other county staff. In the end, the event will cost the county $10,000.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481. Follow him on Twitter at @glbrogdoniv.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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