AUGUSTA — Kennebec County officials hope to acquire the Augusta District Court property on Memorial Circle for a permanent home for the county Registry of Deeds.

The functions of the Augusta District Court at 145 State St. are being moved into the newly constructed Capital Judicial Center, two blocks up State Street to the north, which is slated to open to the public on March 2.

Since the state owns the Augusta District Court property, state Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, has introduced a legislative resolve authorizing the state’s Bureau of General Services to sell it to the county. The resolve, L.D. 114, was referred Thursday to the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee for consideration.

Kennebec County Administrator Robert Devlin said the location would be ideal for the Registry of Deeds, which is in rented quarters on the second floor of One Weston Court. The county has been looking for years for a permanent home for the thousands of documents, including maps and deeds, some dating to 1799.

The registry used to have a lot of traffic from people using it to research titles to property and checking for liens on property. However, the number of visitors has declined in recent years as more people do research online.

Devlin said the lease agreement with the owners of One Weston Court allows the registry to move out at any time without a penalty if it is moved to county-owned property. The county pays $57,708 in rent each year, and a move would likely be a year away if it is approved, Devlin said. The registry generates about $825,000 in revenue a year for the county.


Katz, a former mayor of Augusta, said he was asked to introduce the resolve by Devlin.

“Obviously the location is no longer needed for a courthouse because of our new consolidated court facility,” Katz said. “The county coincidentally is looking for a new home for its registry. It’s about the right size and it seems to be a good fit.”

He added that he is more supportive of the idea because it does not remove a property from the city’s tax rolls.

“If the county had to build somewhere else, it could take another property off the tax rolls,” he said.

The resolve does not specify a sale price for the building, but directs the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services to negotiate the sale “upon terms the commissioner considers appropriate.” It does specify that the building must be sold as is and that Kennebec County must use it for the registry.

At one point in 2003, plans were drawn up for a $2.5 million Registry of Deeds office to be built next to the County Government Center, but that plan never came to fruition.


Four years earlier, in November 1998, voters rejected a plan to buy a building at 32 Winthrop St. for the registry. Before moving to One Weston Court, it was on the ground floor of the Kennebec County Courthouse. It moved when the flood of documents outgrew the space.

The new judicial center will house Kennebec County Superior Court and Augusta District Court as well as the Family Division and the Administrative Office of the Courts currently located at 65 and 24 Stone St. in Augusta.

The $57 million court project began in August 2012. The final phase includes the scheduled demolition of four buildings on Perham Street to make way for more court parking.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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