The Missoula County Courthouse has been undergoing extensive renovation and remodeling since 2012, and officials invited the media on Friday to see some of the finishing artistic touches being completed in the third floor rotunda and historic courtrooms.

Faux artist Amanda Beilby has been working continuously on finishing the columns and woodwork in the rotunda for the past three months.

"I repainted all the columns by hand using the art of faux finishing to imitate something that is real," Beilby said. "I did some faux granite and some faux woodwork. For the granite columns I used paint and glaze in six layers and blending the colors, using a painter's brush and a sponge to do the veining for the granite. For the woodwork, I used plaster, and then mixed several different paints and stains until I found the right match to the original wood."

Beilby has regularly been putting in 10 to 12 hour days in finishing the rotunda and courtrooms, which are truly stunning to behold. She still has more work to do, with columns and woodwork on the first and second floors, with 24 columns on each floor.

Missoula County Communications and Projects Director Anne Hughes has overseen the remodeling project since its inception.

"The project started in 2012, but the planning prior to that took several years," Hughes said. "We have one final phase, which is the exterior construction. The total cost for the courthouse and the annex is about $14 million. We had some federal grant funding to assist with the technology, specifically the 9-1-1 Center. We had $6 million saved up in land sales, and the rest came from property tax levied to finance debt service."

One of the chief complications of the project was that the courthouse has been in operation full-time during the remodeling and renovation.

"We have to stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year," she said. "We have a sheriff's department here, a 9-1-1 Center here, and we take that responsibility seriously We had to move a lot of people around. It was a complex operation, but everyone stepped up."

Hughes said all involved are overjoyed with the results of the project.

"We have a much more pleasant space for the public to enjoy this incredible treasure in the middle of our county," she said. "Our employees have a much better and more efficient workplace. I see pride on their faces when they come to work, and that's a pretty awesome thing."

Hughes also gave kudos to A&E Architects and Jackson Contractors for their professional work in doing the construction.



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