The Lake County Courthouse

IMG_4501Yesterday I was in Painesville for a visit that took me to the Lake County Courthouse.  As I’ve mentioned before, Ohio is blessed with many beautiful county courthouses, and Lake County has one of them.

IMG_4500Located across from Veteran’s Memorial Park in the center of Painesville, the courthouse is a magnificent structure with the inevitable clock tower, topped with an eagle, and inscriptions about the majesty of the law.  The structure was renovated recently, and it shows.  Inside on the courtroom floor are a grand hallway wide enough to host a marching band, gleaming hardwood floors, half-marble walls, beautiful wooden benches, and a fabulous skylight.

My favorite feature of the courthouse, however, are the large statues placed on either side of the staircase entrance.  Rather than the more standard historic figures or representations of blinded justice with scales and sword, the statues are of two deep-eyed, toga-clad figures, depicted as if they are just beginning to rise from a seated position.  Their entire demeanor conveys seriousness and skepticism — which is not a bad theme for a courthouse.

The Stark County Courthouse

Ohio has a strong tradition of beautiful county courthouses.  Many of these magnificent structures still stand, ready to inspire and delight.

Most of the courthouses were built in the late 1800s or early 1900s, only a few decades after the end of the Civil War.  It was a time when Ohio was growing rapidly, new industries were bursting onto the scene, just-arrived immigrants were flocking to growing cities to work in plants and factories, and every few years a new Buckeye was moving into the White House after being elected President.

The Ohio courthouses reflect the optimistic, striving mood that prevailed during those days.  In most counties where the county seat is a town or small city, the courthouse is the tallest structure in town.  Usually it has a soaring clock tower and includes the kind of architectural flourishes that you would expect in a land of growing wealth where the people were eager to erect impressive landmarks that would demonstrate their vigor and success.

The Stark County Courthouse, in Canton, is one of the finest examples of these remarkable county courthouses.  This fabulous structure features stained glass windows, Roman columns, a carved sandstone pediment representing Commerce, Justice, Industry, and Agriculture, and a soaring, four-sided clock tower.  High atop the clock tower are four large gilded angels called the Trumpeters of Justice.

Over the years, the courthouse was not properly maintained and, is so often the case, the original graceful appearance was altered by ill-advised alterations.  In the 1990s, the structure was returned to its original appearance through extensive renovations.  It now stands, in all its glory, as one of the cornerstones of downtown Canton.