Thursday, May 25, 2017

Erie County Courthouse, Built in the 1870s

Pictured above is the Erie County Courthouse about 1888, with the Congregational Church and Zion Lutheran Church on either side of it. Before the courthouse was at its current location, it was on the east side of Columbus Avenue, near the present location of Emmanuel Church. This building had originally been built for use as a school, and was often called the Academy.

In 1871 Erie County officials began planning for a new county courthouse to be built. According to History of Erie County, Ohio, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich (D.Mason and Co., 1889), a plan was adopted by Myer and Holmes, architects from Cleveland. In light of the recent disastrous fire at Chicago, it was suggested that the new courthouse be as fire-proof as possible. Several bids from contractors were received early in 1872, and the winning bid was Miller, Frayer and Sheets, from Mansfield, Ohio. The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center has in its historical collections a ledger book from Miller, Frayer and Sheets, which contains several estimates of labor and materials. Each page was signed by architect H.E. Myer.

The courthouse was built in the Second Empire style. There were marble mantels in some of the offices of the courthouse, and the corridors were floored in marble tiles of black and white. Oran Follett gave an address when the new courthouse was dedicated in 1875. The courthouse was appreciated by the community, as evidenced by this paragraph from History of Erie County, Ohio, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich:
“This new Erie County Court-house is a model of beauty and modern architecture, and does honor not only to those engaged it its construction but to the county. Its location, on the west block of the public square, was exceedingly well chosen, as from all sides a full view of its grand proportions is obtained. The effort at elaborate ornamentation was completely successful, and here does not appear at any point, evidences of needless display.”
Below is a picture of the Ohio National Guard in front of the courthouse in the late 1880s.

In the 1930s the Erie County Courthouse was remodeled through a WPA project. The remodeling was done in the popular Art Deco style, and much of the limestone exterior of the courthouse was replaced with a flat concrete surface. Henry Millott was the local architect for the remodeling project. This brass medal commemorated the project.

Below is a view of the Erie County Courthouse taken by Thomas Root on July 9, 1975.

You can read more about the history of the Erie County Courthouse in Article 20 of From the Widow’s Walk by Helen Hansen and Virginia Steinemann as well as in a Sandusky Register article by Ron Davidson.

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