Judges, politicians attend opening of federal facility

Published 12:35 am Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NATCHEZ — Monday’s ribbon cutting ceremony for the dedication of the federal courthouse was attended by a score of judges, lawyers and politicians.

The building, originally built in 1850s, has had a storied past and now houses the first federal court in Natchez since the state was a mere territory.

Judge David Bramlette said the coming of the federal court to Natchez was a true indicator of a vast cooperation of several entities.

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“It’s is a real homecoming for us,” Bramlette said.

City, county and congressional partnerships made the dream of a federal courthouse a reality Bramlette said.

Judge Edith Hollan Jones also spoke at Monday’s ceremony.

State and local leaders celebrate the grand opening of the Natchez Federal Courthouse. Click here for slideshow

“This building will serve a great and useful purpose,” she said.

Hollan said while the dedication was a joyous occasion the building’s beauty could not be overlooked or understated.

Hollan said the revamped building was “the best court architecture that can be seen today.”

J. David Waggonner III, of Waggonner and Ball architects, said their firm began a study on the project seven years ago.

Waggonner said one unique aspect of the building’s new design is its elevator system.

The building has three separate elevators one for judges, one for the accused and one for the public.

Waggonner and his partners have also successfully intermingled the past with the present in the buildings design.

The building has retained its original grand staircase and much of its original flooring.

But for all the connections to the past the building now has as many markers to the future.

The courthouse has new technology that will allow evidence and experts to be presented to a jury via individual screens for each juror.

But perhaps most unique in the courthouse is the courtroom itself. Open and bright, it does not have the feel of a place where a death sentence could be imposed.

Instead its huge windows and lightly toned woods give a sense of calm. Perhaps to soothe those about to be sentenced.

“A building is not meant to be empty,” Waggonner said. “This is going to be a great addition to the City of Natchez.”

Senator Thad Cochran was also at the dedication, and called the gathering a heart-warming experience.

And while the event may have been a heartwarming one, Adams County supervisor Thomas “Boo” Campbell hopes the courthouse will warm something else, the economy.

Campbell said when court is in session people from all around will be in Natchez.

“It will make people more aware of our community,” he said. “It puts a great spotlight on our city.”