New wall in Bryan County Courthouse threatens historical value - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

New wall in Bryan County Courthouse threatens historical value

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DURANT, OK - Commissioners say it's for security, but people in Durant are not happy about a wall put up that's now blocking one of the courthouse entrances.

Watch video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfWu3Yu75F4&feature=youtu.be

County commissioners say the wall is necessary since the election board will soon be operating in the south side of the building, and because they work unusual hours, officials want the rest of the building secure.

That security came in the form of a wall, a wall many people want torn down.

For Sandy Stroud the Bryan County Courthouse is much more than just a building.

"The same person that designed this building also designed our state capital and that means a lot to me."

Stroud has been working at the courthouse for more than 30 years, so when the county commissioners ordered a big change to what she calls her second home, it really struck a nerve.

 "I just couldn't believe it, I was appalled because it looked so bad," said Stroud.

"It's a big eye sore, and it's pretty inconvenient,"said resident, Samantha Johnson.

Built in 1917 the courthouse is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, but Stroud says a wall that's now blocking the south entrance, is threatening that status and upsetting a lot of people.

More than three-hundred of them signed a petition to preserve the original architecture.

At the center of all this controversy is this hallway here inside the Bryan County Courthouse, and it's historical value. Behind me on the wall, a note written by an unhappy citizen, saying the original architect would be turning over in his grave.

"I know times change and things like historical significance, the concepts wane, but still this belongs to the people."

Attorney Ken Rainbolt has been working cases here for more than 3 decades, and fought against altering the historic building.

But what's more he says it leaves only one entrance to the building, which is not safe.

 "What they're saying it we'd all be safer by being herded in the same door and herded out by the same door, I've never been convinced of that argument," said Rainbolt.

Convinced or not, and despite hundreds of protesting signatures, commissioners say the wall will remain.

We spoke with Chairman of the Board, Jay Perry.

He says he doesn't see the courthouse as a museum but rather an office space, and they only have so much money and so much space to provide offices for all the county departments.