The Old Courthouse
This building is probably the most defining figure in Evansville. Built circa 1895, it was designed by Henry Wolters who also designed the Old Jail. It actually is the third courthouse Vanderburgh County had. Not much is known about the first one, but the second one was building in 1857 and was razed in order to build this one.
|Courthouse #2 as it sat where the new Old Courthouse is today.|
This was used until the late 1960's when they built the Civic Center. Then, it became mostly unused and preservation groups worked for years to find another purpose for it. However, this building was never in any real danger of being razed. Now, it currently holds different offices. It is owned by the county, but is not used very much for municipal purposes, which is actually uncommon in Indiana. I've been researching around and most counties in Indiana still hold court hearings in their respective courthouses. However, to say that Vanderburgh never uses its Old Courthouse for court cases wouldn't be a full truth. There is one original courtroom left that is sometimes used. This is very rare though and only when the Civic Center is overcrowded. I only hope that if I'm in trouble with the law my case is tried here.
For as long as I can remember, the domes were always that green color copper gets, but within the last year they have been cleaned and now have been restored to their original look.
|This picture, taken Easter '04, shows the restoration work done on the copper domes.|
I have lived in Vanderburgh County my entire life and had only been in this building when I was about five. I couldn't believe that I had neglected such a structure. I just never really thought about it. I made a few trips out here and I'm glad I did.
|The front of the glorious building.||A side angle.||A close up of one of the statues. There are more, but I'm not going to take pictures of all of them. This building isn't going anywhere so you check them out on your own.|
Just as amazing as the outside is the inside. I'm a little disappointed with the way these pictures came out. I had to doctor some of them up because it was dark and the pictures really don't do it justice. I was tempted not to show them because I didn't want to downplay the impressiveness of the building.
|A revolving door from the early 1900's.||A view across the first floor.||If you stand in the middle of the first floor and look up, this is what you see. It's a great view if you don't mind the top of my head.|
However nice the first floor is, the upper floors are more magnificent. There you will find a gorgeous staircase, the preserved courtroom, and other original rooms.
|Stairs.||More stairs.||The early 20th century elevator.|
Up on the second and third floors is where to good stuff is.
|A side shot.||From the third floor looking down.||Distant shot on the second floor.|
The most impressive part of the occupied areas was the old courtrooms. Two of which are empty, but original, and one completely intact. I was lucky enough to get in this time. On previous trips these rooms were locked, but because they were working on them, I got in.
|The blue room. Look at that chandelier.||Looking up in the blue room.||Right across the hall front the blue room is this room. Fairly similar, but no chandeliers and has a different color scheme.|
|A view from the pews.||A closer view from the entrance.||From the jurors seats.|
|Where the jury sits.||Testimony chair.||A straight shot of the bench.|
|Your Honor's view.||The beautiful ceiling is virtually untouched since it's creation.||Members of the Indiana Bar.|
This excursion would not be complete without going where I wasn't supposed to. The most impressive part of the whole building I stumbled across accidentally. I was in the elevator and noticed a 4th floor so I checked it out. The door opened and what I found was a hidden treasure. The part of the building leading to the clock tower. It was pitch dark and all I saw was a single staircase that lead you to the light like a Poltergeist movie. It was very dark and I apologize for these pictures. I really had to augment them so you could see anything.
|What you see right off the elevator.||The staircase that all you can see is this light.||Looking up from the top of the stairs.|
Once you get up the stairs, you are in what I call the cylinder. You can see the top triangular shape in that dome right in front of you. If you look left, you will see a spiral staircase that is bolted into the wall of the cylinder. If you look down to you left, you can see under the roof where the AC units are.
|Spiral staircase.||Under the roof where the AC's are stored.||What it looks like up the spiral stairs. These are windows under the clocks you can see form outside.|
|Looking down from the platform.||Down the stairs.||A wood support beam on the platform. There were four of these, all having names from various times. You actually had to climb around this to continue up.|
You have to walk to the other side of the platform to get to the stairs leading to the bell tower. I definitely had a bat in my belfry. I did not make it to the clock tower because the building was closing and in the clock tower you are vary visible. On a side note, I was fortunate enough to be in the belfry when the damn thing decided to go off. It scared that bejeepers out of me. Fortunately, I had a sinus infection so I couldn't hear the bell saving me from ear damage.
The basement was also a very interesting part. Not because of architecture but because it had the famous Vulcan Statue (no relation to Spock) and the way to the The Tunnel and Catacombs that lead to the Old Jail.
To read about the Vulcan Statue click below.
The Tunnel and Catacombs
The Old Jail