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    Bloomfield State Bank's Local Communities Page
    Greene County Courthouse History

    Court House History Writte

    An interesting account of the construction of the first Greene County court house, and subsequent structures, was recently compiled by Mrs. Bertha A. Crane, well known local abstractor. The history, obtained by Mrs. Crane from the old records of the county, was written for use by the Civic Participation Committee of the State Business and Professional Women's Clubs organization, and it will be displayed at the group's state convention this year. Because of the interesting facts revealed in the history, The News brings it to their readers this week for their information and enjoyment.

    The first court house for Greene County was a log structure built in the little settlement designated as Burlington in 1821. It was located on the east side of the West Fork of White River, on a donated plot given by Thomas Bradford, Zebulon Hogue and Frederick Shepherd. A well was dug at the site of the court house, but it was not long until the county realized that this water supply was inadequate, and a new site for the county seat was sought. The original court house was to have been completed by Aug. 1, 1822 and was to be a structure 14'X18', 11/2 stories high, the first floor to be one large room, but the second story had a "petition" which divided it into two rooms. The house was "chiked up and dobed with morter on the outside."

    Upon the selection of a site later named Bloomfield, the public square was ordered cleared, and a court house constructed there on.  The new court house specifications were practically as the one built at Burlington, excepting that the new building was to be 26'x20'.  The new log structure was accepted by the board of commissioners at their September term, 1824, at which time they commissioned the contractor to "chink said house with short blocks dobed with lime and sand in the outside and with clay in the inside washed over with lime."  Two years later a jury room was added, and in 1831, a new chimney, costing $16.00 was built.

    In November, 1835, a committee was appointed to investigate the method of acquiring funds with which to build a new court house. They reported a probable cost of $5,157.00, and provided a method of financing the building on the instalment plan during the period of construction. The contractor was designated, and he entered into an agreement with the commissioners, by which he was to be made an advancement of $1,000.00. However, upon receipt of his advanced payment, the contractor absconded, and before the house was completed, it had cost the county the sum of $6,271.59. 

    It was a brick structure, 50' square and 28' high from ground to the second story eaves. The first floor was divided by a hallway with three rooms on either side; the upper story contained a court room and two jury rooms, with the usual cupola, dome and spire. In 1885-86 this court house was replaced by a new one at a cost of $60,800.00. It is the present building, on the same site as all preceding buildings; however, it was remodelled in 1954, and does not very much remind one of the building as originally built.

    It is a three-story brick building, 112'x77', and has a height of 55'. The north and south entrances open into the wide hallway on the first floor, with the office rooms lying on either side. The stairways leading up to the top floors are at the south end of the first floor, and at the south end of the second floor leading to the third story.

    The second story is divided by a wide corridor from which rooms open on either side, with the court room, together with the judge's chambers and law library at the north end, extending across the hall, the full width of the building.

    The third floor contains an attic over the court room and two rooms, one on either side of the corridor. This story is now used primarily as storage place for old records and files. The basement is directly below the first floor, of the same size, and has rooms on either side of the hallway. Until the remodelling program, the basement was entered only from the outside.

    During the 1954 remodelling, the court house had a complete face-lift. The slate roof with its four corner spires and its large tower with the clock facing to the four points of the compass was removed, thus marking the passing of a real landmark. For upon this public square this stately building had stood for decades as a magnificent edifice of architectural beauty. The soft tones of its aging bricks portrayed an inner spirit of its guardianship of the peoples' liberties. For decades its tower reared itself high above the neighboring buildings as if with a watchful eye to keep zealous guard over the little town. Night and day, the clock chimed the passing of time with the comfortable air of "all is well." Night and day its great illuminated face was ever wakeful, ever watchful.  Not withstanding, it too has felt the harsh touch of age; it too has fallen at the hand of modernity; it too has become a thing of the past, a legend in the minds of those who loved it best.

    The remodelled building is indeed, modern in all respects; reinforced by great iron beams under lowered ceiling, completely fire-proofed, all wooden floors replaced with modern prefabricated fire-proofed materials, old cloth blinds replaced by Venetian blinds, drop cord lighting replaced by multiple fluorescent lighting, refrigerated drinking fountains installed, modernized rest rooms for employees, and the public provided court room completely redone with acoustical ceiling and walls, and entirely new furniture and fixtures.

    It is indeed a new, modern and beautifully reconstructed structure, standing on the public square in the heart of Bloomfield, where a court house has stood continuously since 1824 - a structure the whole county can well be proud of.

    Taken From Greene County Plat Book - 1993


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