My trips along Indiana’s old roads have taken me past many of its courthouses, and I usually stop to photograph them. It seems like Indiana experienced a courthouse-building boom in the 1800s, with many counties building, razing, building, razing, and building again in those years. But with few exceptions, that boom had ended by about 1900.
Most of these courthouses are grand structures. I shudder to think of what a modern courthouse would look like, given our bent to build as cheaply as possible now.
Fulton County, Rochester. I was passing through on the old Michigan Road one day as the sun was low in the sky. It bathed this 1895 limestone building in a delicious light.
Clay County, Brazil. Completed in 1914, this courthouse on the National Road boasts an F-86 jet on its grounds. See a closer view of the jet here.
Vigo County, Terre Haute. I’ve tried to photograph this courthouse a bunch of times and have concluded that you just can’t get a good angle on it. I did get a nice frontal image of it with my Konica C35 in 2012 (see it here) even though I couldn’t back up enough to fit the whole thing into the frame. The building was completed in 1888, faces what is now US 41, and borders what was the original alignment of the National Road.
Jefferson County, Madison. I came upon this 1855 courthouse shortly after fire severely damaged it, leveling its dome. Restoration efforts had begun, and they have since been completed. I might get my chance to see it again this year in its completed state as I’m considering revisiting the Michigan Road, which Madison anchors.
Orange County, Paoli. This 1847 building reminds me of something you’d see on a southern plantation. It’s a commanding presence on Paoli’s square along the Dixie Highway.
Lawrence County, Bedford. I can’t tell you much about this courthouse other than it appears to have been completed in 1872. It stands on an old alignment of US 50.
Jackson County, Brownstown. It was tough to photograph this 1870 courthouse because of its tree-filled lawn. It’s on an old alignment of US 50.
Monroe County, Bloomington. This is another tough courthouse to photograph head on because of trees, so I moved around to its east side for this photo. It was completed in 1908 and stands on the Dixie Highway.
Wayne County, Richmond. This imposing courthouse on the National Road was completed in 1893.
Decatur County, Greensburg. Famous for the tree in the clock tower, this courthouse on the Michigan Road was completed in 1861 and expanded in 1994.
Fountain County, Covington. A real latecomer among Indiana courthouses, it was completed in 1937 and was built by the Public Works Administration, a New Deal program.
Parke County, Rockville. I took this photo early in my road-tripping days, when I was out exploring US 36 and the Pike’s Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway. I was really going more for a streetscape. This courthouse was completed in 1882.
St. Joseph County, South Bend. South Bend is fortunate that both its current (1897) and former (1853) courthouses still stand. This is the current courthouse; the former stood here but was moved 30 yards to the northwest. I surely wish I had tipped my camera up just a bit to fit the entire flagpole in the frame.
Johnson County, Franklin. This 1882 courthouse stands on old US 31, which before that was the Madison State Road. Here’s another photo in which I cut off the top of the flagpole. D’oh! I love how the blue sky makes this building really pop.
I look forward to seeing more of Indiana’s courthouses as I keep exploring the state’s highways.
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Last updated on 15 March 2020 by Jim Grey