Wednesday, April 13, 2016

This Day in Indiana History - April 13, 1871 - Cornerstone Laid for the New Dearborn County Courthouse

A Day in Indiana History - April
A Day in Indiana History - April
April 13, 1871 - Cornerstone Laid for the New Dearborn County Courthouse
Dearborn County officials laid the cornerstone for a new courthouse at a festive ceremony on April 13, 1871. The new courthouse would replace the first one, built in 1810, that had been gutted by a fire.
The First Court House
Built in 1810, the first Dearborn County Court House was a two-story brick structure that mimicked the standard courthouse design of that period. It had a hip roof and octagonal cupola. This courthouse burned on March 26, 1826. Only the brick shell remained.
The "Second" Court House
Most of the county records burned in the fire so county officials asked Dearborn County residents to bring their deeds and other public records to Lawrenceburg to copy them by hand into the records. County commissioners decided not to build a new structure. They decided to use the exterior walls to house the building, constructing a new interior within the burned out walls. This building opened in 1828. The commissions authorized two annex buildings nearby to house the county clerk and the treasurer.
The New Court House
By 1870, Dearborn County needed a new courthouse. The needs of the county had outgrown the capacity of the old courthouse. The commissioners inspected several Indiana courthouses and decided they liked the Floyd County courthouse the best. The contacted the architect that designed it, George H. Kyle to build the new one. Mr. Kyle, a Virginia native living in Vevay since about 1840, had designed other courthouses and had built up an excellent reputation. He drew up plans that the commissioners accepted on June 15, 1870.
Cornerstone Ceremonies
The cornerstone laying ceremony took place on April 13, 1871 and included guest speaker Louis Jordan. County officials included a time capsule in the cornerstone in which they secreted many items from the period. These included  histories of the Masons, Odd Fellows, Druids, and Good Templar as well as Lawrenceburg religious societies. They also inserted other historic documents, continental money and old coins from the Revolution.
Completion of the Court House
Workers completed construction in 1873. During the three years construction the Odd Fellows Hall served as the temporary Court House. The building cost $135,775.00 to build. A three-story building included city hall offices and a public opera house. The magnificent courtroom occupied the back half of the second floor.

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