100 years ago: Clinton County celebrated new ‘temple of justice’


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



FAST FACTS

The courthouse cost $367,757 to construct.

While the elevator was not an original fixture, officials had the foresight to construct an elevator shaft. Later, money from a park fund was used to install an elevator car.

When built, the courthouse had a theatre, including a stage, ticket booth and prop room.

On the border of the courthouse’s interior dome are four murals, signifying attributes of Clinton County. Those characteristics are agriculture, industry, education, and medicine.

Source: “The Courthouses of Clinton County” by Kay Fisher

WILMINGTON — One hundred years ago a Wilmington News-Journal special Section Two was published about the new Clinton County Courthouse and spoke of the place as a new “temple of justice.” The words “edifice,” “magnificent” and “wonderful” were used to describe the building itself.

The courthouse, Clinton County’s third, was dedicated during the annual Clinton County Fall Festival. A few days before the dedication, the special section came out and included a feature about the courthouse by former News-Journal editor Howard Burba.

As for site selection, he wrote, “an entire square” was picked out in the very heart of “the fast-growing city of Wilmington.”

And that location was not vacant. Existing buildings had to be razed to make way. Included in the ones leveled were a Probate Building, the county jail, and, according to Burba, dozens of small stores and shops.

There was another challenge for the chosen site: “Across the site ran a small stream, for years referred to by Wilmingtonians as ‘Shadagee.’ This came in for attention, and experts lowered it several feet, made a new bed of concrete for it — and to-day it is lost sight of‚” Burba wrote.

The rerouting of the stream was a feat of civil engineering, the article stated.

The courthouse was constructed of Bedford stone, and expert masons were brought in from quarries in Indiana. The interior featured marble and bronze, and the “massive dome” was done in gilt, he wrote.

“The interior of the magnificent new structure is a marvel in architecture, and art-mold work being done by the best Italian artists in the country, designed after the interior finishing of the public buildings of Italy, France and other Southern Europe countries,” added Burba.

The work of tinting the rotunda required several months of labor, the article continued.

After the courthouse dedication, the News-Journal ran remarks made by Ohio Chief Justice Hugh L. Nichols, who delivered the main address. Nichols had the distinction of serving as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio after that office was created by a 1912 amendment to the Ohio Constitution.

Nichols concluded his Clinton County speech, “Let us all, lawyers, citizens, judges reconsecrate ourselves to the public service, remembering that the maintenance of liberty under law is a struggle indeed, an ever increasing one,” the chief justice said.

“If we limit this day’s ceremony to the formal dedication of stone and mortar, our services will have proven but a mockery. Invoking the strength and helpfulness of God — let us dedicate our hearts anew in the work that has befallen us,” said Nichols.

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com

FAST FACTS

The courthouse cost $367,757 to construct.

While the elevator was not an original fixture, officials had the foresight to construct an elevator shaft. Later, money from a park fund was used to install an elevator car.

When built, the courthouse had a theatre, including a stage, ticket booth and prop room.

On the border of the courthouse’s interior dome are four murals, signifying attributes of Clinton County. Those characteristics are agriculture, industry, education, and medicine.

Source: “The Courthouses of Clinton County” by Kay Fisher