It may be a while before citizens can walk into the front doors of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse.
Last Friday morning, as security officials unlocked and opened the large bronze doors on the courthouse's Calvert Street side, one of the doors on the center set pulled out of its hinge and fell inward.
The door, which weighs between 4 tons and 5 tons, crashed onto an interior wood and glass door. Luckily for the security guard on duty, the door fell onto the frame, according to Joseph H. H. Kaplan, administrative judge of the Baltimore Circuit Court.
Judge Kaplan said the problem may be traced back to when the doors were refinished several years ago. In order to get the locks to work, the doors had to be adjusted. The daily movement of the doors may have loosened the lag bolts that secured the top hinge into the granite wall. The bolts were installed about 90 years ago, the judge said.
"We are going to keep the Calvert Street entrance closed until all the doors have been checked," Judge Kaplan said. "I want all the doors properly checked out." Until then, people entering the courthouse will have to use the Lexington Street entrance.
This is the second catastrophe to befall the Mitchell Courthouse this year. On Aug. 9, two stained glass skylights were damaged during a construction accident. Both have since been repaired. The courthouse has been undergoing extensive renovations since the early 1980s.