A brief history of the courthouse

CLARION According to the National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania, two earlier courthouses were built on the site: the first was completed in 1843, the second in 1863.

Both were built of brick and both were destroyed by fire.

The second courthouse burned down on Sept. 12, 1882.

Sixteen contractors bid to construct the current courthouse, with bids ranging between $88,370 and $135,000.

P.H. Melvin made the winning bid.

Construction started on July 6, 1883, and was scheduled to be completed on November 16, 1884, but actual completion was on Oct. 14, 1885.

On Jan. 27, 1885, Melvin was removed as contractor and the three bondsmen became acting contractors, retaining Melvin as superintendent of construction.

Total completed cost was $126,936.

Melvin later sued the county for $40,000, apparently unsuccessfully, for failure to comply with the contracted conditions.

The architect was E.M. Butz of Pittsburgh who designed the building in the Queen Anne style and the supervising architect was D. English of Brockville.

Henry Warner of Allegheny painted the frescos.

The floor tiling was laid by the Star Encaustic Tile Company of Pittsburgh and the Howard Clock Company of New York supplied the 9-foot diameter clock dial and the 1,313 pound bell.

A galvanized iron sculpture called the "Lady of Justice," standing 9-feet, 11-inches tall on top of the clock tower, is of unknown origin.

Highlights in the courthouse history:

1889 - gas illumination of the clock was added.

1923 - electric lighting added.

1977 - complete electrical re-wiring.

1981 - a complete exterior renovation.

Compiled by Randy Bartley.