Historic courthouse prepares for new role - FOX 35 News Orlando

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Historic courthouse prepares for new role

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Inside the old Tampa Federal Courthouse, there is a buzz of excitement.

"This is like going back almost onto a movie set and you're able to experience what people experienced 100 years ago," said Mark House with BECK group.

A $30-million makeover is underway, and it is bringing the past alive.

"Look at the depth of the concrete," House continued. "You know that somebody 100 years ago built this and they built it with their hands and hammers."

House's team is transforming the old courthouse into Le Meridien Tampa -- a boutique hotel that will hang on to some of its past.

Where the judge once presided over cases, hotel guests will enjoy dinner and drinks. The impressive upstairs courtroom will become a grand ballroom.

"The judge sat up in that area. This was all wood-sided; it almost looked like church pews were in here. And you have the jury box," House explained. "You can see these 12 pads here where the chairs were."

From molding made of marble to old courtroom doors, all of these historical treasures are here to stay.

"There just aren't a lot of people around that have that skillset, so you want to preserve that past because you aren't going to have a lot of chances to do it in the future," he said.

The 130-room hotel should be open by June. It offers stunning views of downtown while still providing a look into the past.

"I think they're going to walk in and just be amazed at the vastness of it," said House.

Rooms will costs guests anywhere from $160 a night to $300. Former courthouse employees can't wait to get back inside.

"There are numerous judges around that are fairly on in years that have already expressed that they want to come back," House added.

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