Most people have already unwrapped their Christmas presents, but now Guilford County and its contractor have wrapped the Old Guilford County Court House in downtown Greensboro in what looks like thick gift-wrapping paper, and, if the building had a big red bow on top, it would look just like a giant present that wouldn’t fit under any tree.

The Old Court House – which is the center of Guilford County government, containing the manager’s office and the county commissioners’ meeting rooms – has had a lot of interesting looks during a two-year restoration process costing around $3.5 million, but this latest look has county staff and those passing by talking.

On Monday, Jan. 22, staff with the Guilford County Facilities Department said the new covering is a moisture barrier that’s necessary in this phase of the wall restoration process since the work must be done under very dry conditions.  This stage of the work involves peeling off a temporary exterior membrane of the outside wall, a job that goes much easier if the wall is dry.

About three years ago, the Guilford County commissioners became convinced they needed to approve an extensive restoration project for the almost 100-year-old building after pieces of the façade fell four stories to the sidewalk below – clearly a major safety hazard.

Also, the building had something of a grimy appearance after nearly a century of existence.

In addition to the exterior walls, the restoration and cleaning project includes the renovation of the entrance steps, repair of some of the concrete slabs next to West Market Street and the replacement of 33 doors, including the entrance doors.

As part of the project, the building has also seen extensive work inside, where things have been falling as well.  In one famous incident, a large cinderblock fell into a second-floor men’s bathroom stall that was said to be the one favored by a high-level county employee.  Thankfully the stall was unoccupied when the cinderblock fell.

Even more alarming, some chunks from the ceiling of the commissioners’ second-floor meeting room fell very near press row.

This week, county staff said the exterior work on the building had been hampered somewhat by the record rainfall in 2018, but added that the “ballpark” goal date for completing the restoration is March of this year.

The work is being conducted by Greensboro-based J. Wayne Poole Inc. and its subcontractors.