PAXTON — The nonprofit Paxton Foundation has offered to buy the 19th-century jail and sheriff's residence on the courthouse square and pay for the building's renovation and upkeep.
And Ford County Board members asked the group to submit a formal written proposal by Feb. 1 for further consideration.
The county board just three weeks earlier had made plans to tear down the 1871 Italianate-style brick sheriff's residence and attached stone jail if no viable use for the building could be found.
The board is particularly concerned about the continued deterioration of the county-owned building, which has not been used for 20 years.
"The building is not (structurally) secure now; it's deteriorating; it's a liability and an eyesore," said the board's chairman, Rick Bowen of Elliott.
The Paxton Foundation, a group dedicated to preserving Paxton's past, has not determined how it would use the building if it were purchased from the county, although possible uses mentioned Monday included a museum, office space for the foundation's headquarters, or a bed-and-breakfast.
The foundation's president, Royce Baier, said saving the structure is the main concern at this point. He said that ideas for its use would be explored further as the long-term renovation of the building is completed in the next several years.