YOUNGSTOWN — Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti told an audience of about 60 people Tuesday the $6 million restoration of the Mahoning County Courthouse “put it back to where it should be, in its original state and its original materials, and that’s what took so long.”
Righetti, with David Ditzler and Anthony Traficanti, were the commissioners who authorized the project in 2013. Two years earlier, in 2011, the time capsule was removed from the courthouse cornerstone — 100 years from the date the courthouse was completed in 1911.
And Tuesday, a new time capsule filled with items from various officials and departments throughout the county was placed into the cornerstone to be opened in another 100 years.
The event was both a commemoration of the restoration and a celebration of courthouse history.
The new granite stone cemented over the opening where the time capsule was placed states: “Dedicated 1911, rededicated 2021.” That is a reference to the 111 years since the courthouse was constructed.
Also in the mix was a dedication ceremony for a new plaque that was unveiled just inside the front doors, which celebrates the restoration and gives the names of the people involved — the commissioners; project manager Jim Fortunato, who is also the county purchasing director; MS Consultants, the architect; the Chambers, Murphy and Burge historical architects; the consulting architects, Paul Ricciuti and Norma Stefanik; and general contractor, Murphy Contracting of Youngstown.
The restoration included replacement of the roof, down spouts and pieces of the molded clay brick (known as terra cotta), and restoration of the 16-foot copper statue on the roof.
The ceremony in the building’s rotunda that rises nearly 100 feet to a glazed art-glass interior dome, included two tables containing items removed from the earlier time capsule. In his remarks, Ditzler said that perhaps in 2122 when someone — “perhaps one of our grandchildren” — opens this time capsule, he hopes there will no longer be “blue states and red states” and “haves and have-nots.”
Traficanti said that when he was there to open the time capsule in 2011, “It was a very surreal moment for me, not knowing what to expect.”
He wondered what the people who assembled that time capsule would have thought of the things that have happened since then.
“Could they have imagined that one day man would have walked on the moon?” he said.
Traficanti said he believes that in another 100 years, there will be a cure for cancer, extraterrestrials will be walking among us, and violence “will be eradicated from society.”
OLD, NEW CORNERSTONES
Bill Lawson, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, told the audience that the former cornerstone is more than 114 years old, having been placed June 11, 1908.
He said the new time capsule contains “documents that speak to our current county government, what’s been going on in the community in recent years (hint: COVID-19), and the efforts to preserve the courthouse over the last 37 years.”
The one big difference between the old time capsule and the new one is an inventory of the items in the new time capsule that people can view now instead of having to wait 100 years to find out what’s inside.
The inventory was created by the county commissioners office, which collected the items that were included.
The ceremony included remarks by some of the people involved in the restoration.
Architect Paul Ricciuti walked to the podium, looked up at the dome and other features of the rotunda and said, “It’s amazing just to stand here and look up at this amazing building. It’s been here over 100 years, and it will be here for another hundred, maybe more.”
After the ceremony ended and the new plaque inside the front doors had been dedicated, the commissioners together placed the new time capsule in the spot in the cornerstone where the old one was, and a granite stone was placed over the hole and secured with cement.
Elizabeth Ramsey of Smith Township was looking at the items from the first time capsule when she was asked her thoughts on the ceremonies.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” she said. “It’s the most beautiful courthouse. When I had small children, I brought them here to see it. That summer, they liked it so much, they brought their friends to see it the next year. I brought a whole truckload of kids here to see this place.”
She said it was about 1975. “My kids thought it was the most wonderful thing they ever saw.”
Originally published by Ed Runyan with The Vindicator.