Lee County, Kentucky, and her courthouses

Lee County Courthouse and Historic Marker in Beattyville, Kentucky. Author’s collection

The last time I ventured to Beattyville was in the waning days of the last millennium. With friends, I watched the wooly worms race at the annual festival that draws thousands to the sleepy seat of Lee County. But last week, I returned to do a little business in the Lee County Courthouse.

County Named?

Lee County borders six counties: Powell, Wolfe, Breathitt, Owsley, Jackson, and Estill. It is Kentucky’s 10th smallest county by population (7,594) and the 24th smallest county by square mileage (210 sq. mi.).

Its history is complex. Formed just five years after the end of the Civil War, the area that comprises Lee County (like much of the Commonwealth) was divided during the war. According to the Kentucky Encyclopedia, “Union sympathizers formed a Home Guard, headquartered at Rocky Gap, eight miles north of Beattyville. On November 7, 1864, a Confederate force under the command of Lt. Jerry South fought the 20th Kentucky Militia at the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River in Lee County.”

By 1870, sentiments likely remained divided. The story told on the historic marker outside the courthouse – that the county was named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee – is quite possibly incorrect. That historic marker was erected in 1964, a time when Kentucky’s history was still being rewritten with an unnecessarily southern bent. The Kentucky Encyclopedia raises similar doubts to the necessity of telling Lee’s military accolades on Main Street Beattyville. That article cited “strong Union sentiment in the area” during the War the entry finds “a more likely explanation” in Lee County being named after the county of the same name in Virginia because many of the local inhabitants traced their roots to that locale. Lee County, Virginia, the westernmost county in Virginia, was named after “Light Horse” Henry Lee III (who, coincidentally, was the father of General Robert E. Lee).

The Old Courthouse

The present Lee County courthouse is the county’s second courthouse. The first was built in 1872, two years after the county was formed. That first courthouse was used until 1977, when it was demolished for the present structure.

Lee County Courthouse from 1872-1977. UK Libraries.

Lee County Courthouse from 1872-1977. Library of Congress.
The old courthouse, pictured above, was built by Pryse, Brandenburg, and MaGuire. In 1916, the old courthouse was remodeled and expanded. In 1963, a rear annex was added. Located on Beattyville’s Main Street, the structure faces toward the Kentucky River which is about two blocks away without a significant change in elevation leaving Beattyville’s Main Street (and the courthouse) subject to flooding. In 1957, a major flood put much of Main Street under several feet of water. 

The Current Courthouse

The current courthouse, built 1977-78, was designed by Wichman and Sallee. Just inside the front doors of the modern structure, one immediately recognizes the plaques and cornerstones of yesteryear. A historic note explains:

Four plaques on this wall, the brick used to construct interior walls on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floors of this building, and the iron bell mounted in the east outdoor sitting area, were removed from the courthouse which occupied this site from the year 1873 to the year 1977. 

Interior wall inside the Lee County Courthouse. Author’s collection

Lee County’s Historic Places

Because Lee County is a bit out of the way, I tried to see all that it has to offer. From a historical perspective, there are three historic markers and nine sites on the National Register of Historic Places. (six of which are petroglyphs or other prehistoric sites with restricted addresses).

The historic markers are the one first photographed above (“County Named, 1870”), another (“A Masterful Retreat”) was one of many along the path of USA Gen. George W. Morgan’s retreat from the Cumberland Gap to the Ohio River in 1872, and “Kentucky River Forms Here” near where the already united North Fork and Middle Fork join with the South Fork to form the Kentucky River at Beattyville.

The three accessible sites on the National Register were the Graded School, the St. Thomas Episcopal Church, as well as St. Therese which is the oldest Catholic Church in Eastern Kentucky

Support the Fayette Courthouse … TONIGHT

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

That’s the approach my grandfather took when tackling a big problem. And that’s the approach that Lexington will need to take in order to save the historic 1898 courthouse in the heart of Lexington.

It is time to take a bite and a step toward preservation of this important structure which served as the center of Fayette County’s governance for over a century.

The Lexington-Fayette UCG is requesting a $200,000 grant from the EPA’s Brownfields Program.
Brownfields are “real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant” according to the EPA’s website.

The old courthouse, as has been well-documented and reported since the building’s public closure in 2012, contains a significant amount of lead-based paint, mold, asbestos, and guano (bird poop).

The city’s Division of Historic Preservation describes the old courthouse as a “property of extreme importance architecturally and/or historically.” There can be no doubt: the 1898 courthouse is significant and worthy of being preserved and restored. I don’t know what the ultimate use for this important structure will be, but nothing can be done unless and until the property is cleaned up and stabilized. Obtaining funds from the EPA Brownfields Program is a crucial step toward accomplishing the goal.

I was quite honored to read that much of the building’s history that was contained in the Brownfield Application references The Kaintuckeean‘s March 1, 2012 post.  If you are unfamiliar with the courthouse’s links to Tibetan palaces and the Canterbury Tales, then you should click through and read the history.

But here’s what you can do to help the grand old courthouse: Show your support for the Grant Application. In person, come tonight at 5:30 p.m. (December 1) to the public meeting (they are accepting public comment) to the third floor Phoenix Building conference room, 101 East Vine Street. Online, you can make your public comments (or statement of support) by sending an email to [email protected].

And for more details about Brownfields Application, visit www.LexingtonKY.gov/brownfields.

Federal Courthouse is of “classic architecture, according to the Greek motif”

Lexington’s Federal Building, ca. 1934. Photo: Nat’l Archives.

Since it opened in 1934, the Barr Street façade of Lexington’s Federal Building remains unchanged. Its four stories of steel, brick, and limestone construction are a classic example of federal construction in the 1930s (Neo-Classical), evincing the strength of a government and nation fighting off the consequences of the Great Depression. But even this powerful building shows signs of the era’s economics: the central eastern façade (less visible) has a less-costly brick exterior surface. In 1957, an annex was added to the federal building to better accommodate post office operations.

Lexington’s Federal Building, ca. 2013
Grand Lobby of the Federal Building – Lexington, Ky.

Flanking the building’s Barr Street frontage are two projecting pavilions which operate as the building’s primary entrances. Each admits visitors into small anterooms off the central, grand lobby. Originally, the grand lobby operated as the main post office with sorting facilities in adjacent rooms and in the basement. Today, the post office is long gone though vestiges remain in the extensively decorated room comleted with “bronze grills, marble pilasters, and a terrazzo floor.”

The eastern anteroom/lobby features “an elliptical staircase with original wrought iron balusters and a wood handrail” while the lobby has “walls of St. Genevieve Golden Vein marble.”

Courtroom A in the Federal Building, as viewed from the Bench

On the second floor is the main Courtroom A which remains as it would have appeared when the building opened in 1934, though with the addition of advanced technology necessary for today’s legal system. As described in the National Register application, it is “the most significant space of the upper floors.” The room features a “marble wainscoting, and original acoustical tile walls,” as well as original “Gothic design hanging chandeliers [having] fleur-de-lis and quatrefoil designs” hang from the coffered wood beamed ceiling.”

Ward Lockward’s
Daniel Boone’s Arrival in Kentucky

At the rear of the courtroom, opposite the judge’s bench, is a 1938 mural by Ward Lockwood entitled Daniel Boone’s Arrival in Kentucky. Commissioned by the Section of Fine Arts of the Works Progress Administration, it recalls Boone’s first crossing into Kentucky on a hunting and trapping expedition in the 1760s. Boone would, of course, return to this “promised land” calling “heaven … a Kentucky of a place.” (As legend would have it…)

Behind the bench is a portrait of Judge Cochran who was the first judge to preside in the Eastern District of Kentucky. Appointed in 1901 after the old District of Kentucky was split, Cochran would serve until his death in 1934. Flanking the walls of the courtroom are additional portraits of former and senior status judges from the District.

Grandeur of Courtroom A, as seen from the Jury Box

Building A Landmark.

North Limestone from Pleasant Green to Barr, ca. 1921
Source: Asa Chinn Collection/KDL

During the roaring twenties, Washington and Lexington leaders debated the ideal spot for a new federal courthouse in the city. City leaders opposed the federal governments proposal to erect the courthouse on Short Street at the head of Esplanade, and being owners of the property were quite persuasive.

Instead, the northeast corner of Barr and Limestone was selected in the spring of 1930 for the erection of a new federal courthouse and post office, as well as offices for other federal agencies. As a sign of the times, this included offices for the prohibition enforcement agency. The building would be located on a plot running “from Limestone east on Barr to St. Peter’s school, and north on Limestone from Barr to Pleasant Stone Street, or what is known as Sayre College alley.”

A title abstracter, J.W. Jones, was employed by the government and found “no serious defects in the titles to any property which affronts approximately 263 feet on north Limestone street and 213 feet on Barr street.” Though clearing title seemed effortless, property acquisition would not be.

In December 1930, Sawyer Smith – the U.S. District Attorney – instituted condemnation proceedings against those property owners who didn’t voluntarily sell their land. The total land value was appraised at $184,648.50; final judgment in the condemnation suit was entered in early March, 1931. On April 2, 1931, a blanket deed was filed in the Fayette County Clerk’s Office identifying the U.S.A. as owner of the land.

During the heat of late summer and early autumn, 1931, “an adequate force of workmen and equipment” from the Thurman Wrecking & Supply Co. worked to dismantle the old structures on the site of the proposed federal courthouse. But the proposal was not yet complete.
Old Federal Building at Main and Walnut

On November 6, 1931, the architect’s drawing of the “New Lexington Postoffice” was published on page one of the Lexington Leader. It was the “first official announcement of plans and specifications today.” Facing Barr street, the 170′ x 125′ structure would be “of classic architecture, according to the Greek motif.” Over the next year, the Churchill and Gillig architectural firm worked to finalize plans for the new federal building. As is often the case, it came down to the last minute. The Lexington Leader writes on March 1, 1932, “Nine draftsmen worked all night Monday  … and completed plans for Lexington’s $761,000 federal building.” Plans were then taken for a “final check by Brinton B. Davis [of Louisville], consulting architect on the project, prior to final review and approval by Louis A. Simon, Superintendent of the Architectural Division of the Treasury Department. 

With deeds acquired, land cleared, and plans approved, construction could commence! 
In December 1934, the post office and other federal offices were finally moved from the old federal building at Main and Walnut) to the new building at Limestone and Barr streets.

Postal Operations and First Class Mail.

When the Post Office opened on Barr Street, the cost to send a first class letter was 3¢. The price was unchanged when many of the post office operations were relocated in 1957 to an annex on the building’s north side. As Lexington continued to grow, the Federal Building became inadequate to serve as Lexington’s main mail sorting facility.

In 1973, the Lexington post office office was relocated to Nandino Blvd and Georgetown Road and the old post office in the Federal Building became the Barr Street Station. At the time, the cost to mail a first class letter had risen to 8¢.

Security and convenience (i.e., parking) gave way to yet another change for downtown’s postal needs in April 1998 (first class letter, 32¢) when the Barr Street Station itself was closed. Downtown PO boxes were relocated to a new, modern post office on East High Street. The modern post office, however, carries a historic name: Post Rider Station hearkening to our nation’s earliest history when mail was carried over post roads by post riders on horseback and delivered to a central location in each town or community.

Above the entry to the U.S. Marshals Office for the
Eastern District of Kentucky

Though no postal service activities remain in the Federal Building, it remains an active federal building housing the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky as well as the Office of the United States Marshals for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Among other tasks, the Marshal’s Service provides security for the federal Courts. Of course, the Marshall’s of Eastern Kentucky have been made famous by the popular FX television program Justified. Fans of the show know that Raylan Givens, a Harlan County native portrayed by Timothy Olyphant, is a U.S. Marshal. A real U.S. Marshal will advise that Givens’ office space is quite spacious and a far cry from the quarters offered the U.S. Marshals at the end of the Federal Building’s grand lobby.

Additional photos of the Federal Building may be found on flickr.

The Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation hosts a monthly deTour for young professionals (and the young-at-heart). The group meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. Learn more details about this exciting group on FacebookYou can also see Kaintuckeean write-ups on previous deTours by clicking here.

Sources: Andrew DartKDL (Asa Chinn)local.lexpublib.org; National Archives

Pendleton County Courthouse in flood-prone Falmouth, Ky.

Pendleton County Courthouse – Falmouth, Ky.

Pendleton County and Falmouth were one of those counties and courthouses that were a huge hole in my map for a long time. Pendleton County sits right there along I-75, but is so far off the road that it takes a special trip to get there.

This beautiful little courthouse sits perfectly within downtown Falmouth, and is only the second courthouse in Pendleton County. According to John W. Carpenter’s Kentucky Courthouses, this courthouse was built in 1848.

Apparently, the original structure sits to the right in the picture above. Pilasters on the front of that square building indicate construction in the Greek Revival style.

But a huge remodeling took place in 1884. An addition (shown to the left of the photo) and a clock tower were built with the clock tower connecting the original structure with the addition.

The remodeling brought the building up to “Victorian standards” and added trim, carved lentels over the windows, and other Victorian elements.

A further expansion occurred in the 1970s, when a new addition was added and paint was sandblasted off the old brick.

Falmouth has an interesting history. Located at the convergence of Licking River and South Fork, it is at the site of an early Native American settlement. Floods have devastated the community on a number of occasions, including 1937, 1948, 1964 (when more than 75% of homes in the city were flooded), and 1997 (when the river reached 52 feet and 80% of the town was submerged under several feet of water).

Hudspeth’s Well and the Simpson County Courthouse

Simpson County Courthouse – Franklin, Ky.

First, I apologize for the quality of the picture. It was getting dark when I arrived in Franklin, and I couldn’t find an angle that didn’t put the sun directly in my face.

Franklin has a beautiful courthouse lawn. The pictured courthouse was the third on the site and was built in 1882-83. This was the “standard courthouse design” of McDonald Brothers, an architect firm out of Louisville. Wings were added to the courthouse in 1962 that attempted to match the style.

Well on Courthouse Lawn – Franklin, Ky.

People often forget the boon that it could be for a landowner when their land was chosen for the county seat. The selection of Franklin in Simpson County illustrates this very point. When the county was formed, a commission was authorized to purchase a site for the county seat. Three owners sought to sell their site, but a water source was essential.

William Hudspeth had dug a well onsite, but it was dry. Secretly, he hauled in water to fill the well, and sold the 62 acres that serve as Franklin’s downtown area based on this deception. Amazingly, the water he brought in primed the well, and the well ended up being used for years.

There is a well on the courthouse lawn to commemorate this great story in Simpson County’s history. 

“A re-distribution of happiness”

Postcard of the Fayette County Court House – Lexington, Ky.

On Tuesday, I arrived at the office to find a letter and postcard from Mr. Lowell Joerg of Tucson, Arizona. It was generically addressed to my office, but both found their way to my desk. The postcard, above, is of the Old Fayette County Courthouse. His letter follows:

June 14, 2012

Good Morning:

I sure hope this letter brightens your day.

I was at an antique store here and found this old circa 1939 picture of your beautiful courthouse. How the card got to Arizona we’ll never know.

It’s an old time classic, for sure. I thought to myself, by golly, I’d send it home where it can be appreciated. Our heritage is valuable to all of us. Lots of changes over the years, I’m sure. Enlarged it will make quite a display.

Well, I gave 6.00 for it so if you want it for 7.00 or 8.00 or so why that’s sure o.k. Throw in a little postage if you want, too.

And my wife says if I hear from you I’ll have to take her to lunch. I am eighty-four years old and still going strong.

I like to call my littly hobby, “A re-distribution of happiness.” Our world sure needs it.

Thank you, and Godspeed in your work. Have a wonderful and progressive year.

Lowell Joerg

PS: Send along a little about your place today if you want. I enjoy souvenirs, too, if it’s o.k. with you. I chose you at random off the net.

It was a delight to receive and read Mr. Joerg’s letter. A Google search reveals that he is a retired insurance salesman and that he sends out two or three of these postcards a month to recipients across the country.

I wrote Mr. Joerg back yesterday telling him of the great history of our courthouse. I also shared with him the twist of irony: that the day prior to his letter, the city of Lexington indefinitely closed the old courthouse. I also included with my letter printouts from this website on the two pictured buildings:

  1. Old Courthouse & Lexington History Museum (Oct. 2009)
  2. Fayette County’s old courthouse is all history (March 2012)
  3. Lexington’s Old Courthouse Indefinitely Closed (July 2012)
  4. Fayette National Bank Building (Lexington’s First Skyscraper) (June 2011)
  5. “The Worst Kept Secret in Lexington” – 21C is Coming To Town (April 2012)
I hope that Mr. Joerg enjoys learning a bit more about these two terrific buildings. His concept for the “re-distribution of happiness” is fabulous and we should all attempt to share joy in our own way! Thanks, Lowell Joerg!

In a place called Munfordville…

Hart County Courthouse – Munfordville, Ky.

Hart County has long been a place that I heard much about, but had never visited. A truly good friend from college was a Munfordvillian, and he used to regale me with stories of its importance in the Civil War. We used to laugh as my friend would amp up his southern drawl, and begin to speak of the battles that took place in this tiny little community – including tales of the local boy who went on to be a general in the Confederate Army, General Simon Bolivar Buckner.

Turns out he was right. Hart County was first settled in the late 18th century around the Horse Cave area, with Munfordville being settled in 1816. Munfordville was named for Richard T. Munford, the man who originally owned the land upon which the town sits. Its strategic position along the railroad that ran between Louisville and Nashville made it an important location during the Civil War. Throughout the war, bridges were burned both figuratively and literally in Hart County.

John Hunt Morgan burned the bridge over Bacon Creek in 1861.  During the Battle of Munfordville in 1862, Confederate General Braxton Bragg, at the urging of General Buckner, captured approximately 4,000 Union troops under the command of John T. Wilder. Bragg’s men also burned the bridge which crossed the Green River.

This is the third courthouse in Hart County, constructed in 1928. Except for a small circa 1918 bandstand, it is the only building within the court square itself. Listed on the National Register in 1980, this two-story Colonial Revival has an aura of classical Beaux-Arts design. It kind of reminded me of an old high school. When I visited, there appeared to be some renovation going on near the front entrance – a positive sign as judicial activities moved in 2008 to the new judicial center one block east of the old court square.

Kentucky Courthouses and America’s Most Endangered Places

Fayette County Courthouses – Lexington, Ky.

Each year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation publishes a list of America’s Most Endangered Places. This year, Texas Courthouses made the list for the second time. Some background from the National Trust:

Texas courthouses helped establish a unique identity for each of the state’s counties, and 234 of the state’s 244 county-owned historic courthouses are still in active government use. Unfortunately, many – including some of the oldest and most architecturally distinguished – have fallen into disrepair due to inadequate funding and maintenance. In 1998, the National Trust named Texas courthouses to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The following year, the Texas legislature and Governor George W. Bush created the Texas Historic Courthouse Program. Administered by the Texas Historical Commission, this program has provided $247 million in matching grants to fully restore 62 historic courthouses and partially assist 21 more. While these results are impressive, more than 72 courthouses remain to be restored, including the Karnes County Courthouse. Continued state funding for the Texas Historic Courthouse Program is needed to assist preservation efforts across the state.

In Kentucky, we’ve taken a different approach citing judicial demands for increased space. As a result, preservation has not been at the forefront in all locales. Kentucky’s system has resulted in the construction of over 70 “judicial centers” since 1998.

Old Mercer Co. CH – Harrodsburg, Ky.
(Photo: NRK)

In Fayette County, two buildings on opposite sides of Short Street leave behind an old courthouse that has become a center for community museums. Most of the historic buildings that once stood on these blocks were destroyed prior to the decision to build the courthouse, but in several counties historic commercial structures are being razed to make way for judicial centers adjacent to or near the old courthouses (see Laurel County or Magoffin County as an example). In Mercer County, the historic courthouse has been demolished in favor of a replacement.

In Nelson County, the old courthouse at the historic center of Bardstown has been replaced by a judicial center on what is now the “main drag” far outside of the old city limits. In fact, the new Nelson County Judicial Center occupies the site of an old Wal-Mart. The same phenomenon can be seen in Johnson County. And while the ease of access to these judicial centers is convenient for jurors, attorneys, and judges, it can be the death knell for a small town’s downtown. While Bardstown is likely safe with its old courthouse now occupied by a welcome center in a well-visited community, Bardstown’s traffic doesn’t exist in each of Kentucky’s small-town county seats.

Consider that when the druggist closes for the big box drug store and the retail shops on Main Street close when Wal-Mart opens, what will be left of a downtown when the attorneys pack up shop and move closer to the ‘new’ courthouse?

When federal dollars are spent on a project, section 106 of the National Preservation Act requires each Federal agency involves to consider the impact on our national heritage. Kentucky’s courthouse projects have largely gone without Federal funds as noted in the State Historic Preservation Plan:

Historic county courthouses in Kentucky are now being replaced by large judicial centers or complexes. The construction of these facilities has led to the demolition of entire blocks of historic buildings in urban centers or downtowns. The judicial center projects do not usually involve the spending of federal funds; therefore, they do not require review by the Kentucky State Historic Preservation Office.

Suffice it to say, some of our old courthouses have been in need of repair or additional space. Two of the state’s handsomest courthouses – those in Hancock and Robertson Counties – have been largely preserved through the judicial center fervor of the past fourteen years. Hancock County’s courthouse, described as “singularly tranquil and substantial architectural presence,” desperately needed an update. As one commenter pointed out, the courtroom “now resembles the transporter room from Star Trek.” A new judicial center now stands across the street from the old Hancock County courthouse, which now faces an uncertain future. Meanwhile, the historic Robertson County courthouse in Mt. Olivet was incorporated into the new judicial center’s design.

Kentucky’s courthouses are vital to our collective history and our individual community’s uniqueness. In the words of former Governor Wallace G. Wilkinson, “Only when you have seen [all of the courthouses] can you get a true
appreciation for the history represented by these unique and individual
landmarks… Each is different from the other; distinctive in its architecture
and its history.” Former Governor Martha Layne Collins remarked that  “one of the focal points of any community is the courthouse – the place
where so much of Kentucky’s rich and fascinating history has been written…”.

Tragically, our Kentucky courthouses are just as at-risk as those in Texas, but they are without the national preservationist’s limelight.

Bullitt County Courthouse in Shepherdsville, Ky.

Bullitt County, Kentucky, has an astoundingly large amount of judicial space. I even got a little confused when attending a hearing there as I wasn’t sure of which building to enter!

Shepherdsville was founded in 1793 where the old Wilderness Trail crossed Salt River. Bullitt County was formed four years later, on January 1, 1797, from lands taken from Nelson and Jefferson counties. This Beaux-Arts style courthouse is only the second to occupy Shepherdsville. It was constructed in 1900-01.

Salt licks in the area were important to attracting early settlers. The first commercial saltworks in Kentucky were established in Bullitt County, and the area experienced rapid growth in the 1800s due to the presence of the railroad that ran from Louisville to Nashville.

Source: KDL (Frank C. Dunn Collection)

Not suprisingly, whiskey distilling remains an important industry in the county. The drive form Shepherdsville to Bardstown features both the Jim Beam distillery and Four Roses. I highly recommend the route.

The majority of judicial activities now occur in the new judicial center which is located behind the old Beaux Arts building. The old courthouse now houses the Bullitt County History Museum.

Courthouses and BBQ. Plenty in Owensboro!

Daviess County Courthouse – Owensboro, Ky.

Daviess County was established in 1815 from portions of Ohio County and is named for the lawyer who unsuccessfully prosecuted Vice President Aaron Burr for treason. Strong southern ties made Daviess County a southern hotbed. According to the Kentucky Almanac, Lincoln only received seven votes in the election of 1860. A large confederate monument stands on the courthouse lawn.

Confederate Monument – Owensboro, Ky.

Owensboro, originally Owensborough, is an interesting town. Though its cut off from Interstate access, its still the fourth largest city in the Commonwealth. Its location along the Ohio River spurred its early growth, along with the booming tobacco industry in the Green River region and its bourbon production following the distillery boom of the 1880.

Owensboro functioned as a manufacturing hub until the 1970s. On a more personal level, my wife’s family is from this area, and any visitor to Owensboro owes it to themselves to try the barbecue: Moonlite for the experience, Old Hickory for the quality.

Historic Public Buildings of Daviess County ca. 1864
Credit: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

This is the fifth courthouse to occupy the site. All the previous courthouses were quite interesting, the third one having been burned by Confederate troops in retribution for black Union soldiers utilizing the building as barracks.

The fourth courthouse was Italianate with a huge cupola on top, but it was condemned and removed in 1927. It was also reportedly haunted. This fifth courthouse was built in 1963, after nearly 25 years of attempting to obtain funding for its construction. In 1989, a Judicial Center was also opened.