Recycling and Adaptive Reuse
of Existing Structures


1846 Courthouse to Portsmouth
Art & Cultural Center


Recycling and repurposing reduces construction costs and showcases the buildings aesthetics and cultural distinction.  The rehabilitated structure updates the building for current use without destroying its historic integrity.  The Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center is one such example.  The 1846 Courthouse, designed in the classic Greek-Revival style formerly housed the Portsmouth Courts and Norfolk County Courts until the County Court moved to Chesapeake.  The 1846 Courthouse was registered as a Virginia Historic Landmark in 1966 and subsequently listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

On June 1, 1984, the 1846 Courthouse building reopened as the Community Arts Center and Children’s Museum.  John Paul Hanbury was architect for renovation of the interior and exterior work.  The work involved gutting the interior of building to the ground and replacing it with a modern concrete and steel structure while maintaining the historic exterior façade.

Did you know there is a cupola atop the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center?  See if you spot it and are able to identify other historic architectural details not commonly used in construction today.

What is a cupola?  It is a small dome structure placed at the ridge of a building.  A cupola serves many functions, i.e. allowing ventilation, adding light or housing a bell.  Can you think of other uses?

To find more architectural details, visit Online Learning at:


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